We have been noticeably quiet over the past few days. My Dad passed away last Wednesday in the very early morning hours of St. Patrick’s Day. In the days that have followed, we have dealt with everything that one must when a loss such as this occurs. We have celebrated the life (and will continue to do so) of a loving husband, a devoted father and grandfather and a wonderful man. I am SO proud to say that I got to be a part of such a full life, that was lived so well and that touched so many.
My Dad was extremely proud of the fact that I am a graduate of the University of Georgia and he was also a Bulldogs fan and a full-fledged member of the DAWG Nation. His relationship with the DAWGS had been sustained from afar for years and he had never gotten closer to Georgia football than hearing Larry Munson plead “Run, Lindsay, Run!” against the Gators in 1980. Regardless, he loved the DAWGS. He was Georgia because I was Georgia.
As I thought back on all of the great memories I shared with my Dad, I was amazed at all of the things that came flooding back into my mind, but one memory reappeared quickly and clearly.
During the 1996 season, I was a junior at UGA and soaking in all it meant to be a college student in Athens. However, the first memory that comes to mind from that time in my life was a special Saturday in the fall spent “between the hedges” with my Dad.
My memories of exactly what happened in the game that day are cloudy to say the least, but my time with my Dad stands out clearly. It was an early season game, the weather was great and the DAWGS were clearly the better team on the field that day and they easily carried the day. Due to various physical ailments, doing a lot of walking was never a good idea for Dad and the scope of everything that was going on around him on this game day in Athens must have been overwhelming, but he hung right in there with me every step of the way and wanted to be a part of everything we could squeeze in. I remember being impressed, even in the moment. We barked together. We cheered together. We talked about life, football…pretty much any and everything else all afternoon. We were just a father and a son sharing a game and making a memory. The moment was surreal for both of us. I was proud to be able to bring him to a game because I knew it was his first and he was so proud to be able to be there because he knew how many other people wanted to be in his seat. I knew how much he appreciated the invitation, but he was the only person I wanted to be at the game with me that day.
I love my Dad and my family loves the DAWGS and the University of Georgia. UGA has shaped my life in many ways and has helped me to build the life I enjoy today. However, even with all that the University of Georgia has given me, I have received no greater gift than one sun-splashed, fall day spent in Sanford Stadium watching the DAWGS play with my Dad.