Sunday, February 19, 2012

This week's Pep Talk: "Make Headlines"

It’s a weekday ritual in preparation for a daily three-hour afternoon sports talk show on Mile High Sports Radio in Denver: scanning ESPN’s website looking for topics that might spark interesting, engaging and entertaining conversation. Partner Jimmy Doogan and I really try and walk the talk in having a show focused on listeners and asking them questions. Everybody has a right to their opinion, right? I’m just a simple dude from Missouri, been called a lot of things in life, smart rarely one, but that’s why it’s called, Drive Time with Mac and Doog: Ain’t about us, it’s about YOU!

It was a Friday, the second one in February, and, toward the bottom of the headlines, this caught my eye: “Youkilis to marry Brady’s sister.” Apparently, veteran Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis and Julie Brady, one of New England quarterback Tom Brady’s three sisters, are engaged and gonna get hitched. Good for them and good luck in that honorable and challenging thing called marriage - been there a coupla times and it was bumpy. But something else about the story resonated. It took me to a joyful moment.

My son graduated from high school four years ago. As a graduation gift, with the help of an amazing buddy, I planned a “Dad and Dude” weekend to Boston to watch his beloved - at the time - Red Sox play at Fenway Park. Just a few weeks from enrolling to study film at New York University the hard-working young man had visited the fabled venue far earlier in life. At about 18 months old, the chocolate-chip-eyed baby boy, his mom and yours truly caught a game at baseball’s shrine before heading to vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. What I remember about that moment - of course Kyle doesn’t - was my now 22-year-old son swinging a miniature bat around and almost taking the heads off of others seated close. Another memory bringing smile to face and warmth to heart - two darn powerful things for which I’m grateful. Each is good for us.

Anyway, Kyle’s graduated from high school; he and his old man head to Boston to watch the Red Sox for a weekend series. It happens, this was August 2008, the same weekend the Brady-led Patriots were playing an exhibition game in nearby Foxboro. That incredible pal Rich Fisher - “Fish Daddy” to me - set us up big-time at each venue: seats right behind home plate at Fenway and, because of his friendship with Brady, a couple a seats in the future Hall of Famer’s family suite at Gillette Stadium. I’m pretty sure I met, briefly, Julie while sitting there watching the game. The Brady family is very welcoming and friendly. They made two complete strangers feel welcomed and comfortable. A long overdue “thank you” to the Brady clan for contributing to a wonderful weekend for a father and his son.

And that’s where this all ends: a father with tears in his eyes about a wonderful moment in his life - road trip with his boy. It came from scanning ESPN’s website. It also comes at an interesting time in the relationship: A young man working hard, and making progress, in a dream to make his mark in the entertainment industry - not an easy chore. He wants and deserves his space. The thought of a similar road trip and hanging with the old man, in all likelihood, not real high on his “good-time” agenda at this juncture of his life.

And then it comes to your humble correspondent and, “Will I have courage to accept and receive?” For some reason, that question makes me think of my father. Three decades ago, when I was in my early 20’s, he wasn’t very cool either. That sure changed before my old man departed to lung cancer in 2007. Miss our golf games buddy.

Stepping back and letting kids spread their wings. Ain’t the easiest thing in the world, right? Parents, let’s make sure, despite feeling ignored, to keep encouraging our kids to chase dreams. It will strengthen their spirit and help them soar like eagles.

I can’t remember a darn thing about topics discussed that day on Mac and Doog. However, preparation for it took me to first, a wonderful memory, and then, a present experience. Now the question becomes, given those two truths, what does the future hold for father and son? I sure hope, and will try like heck to facilitate, it grows into friendship and admiration I was blessed to share with my old man.

Friendship and admiration. Two things that make life fulfilling. Okay, here’s the challenge this week: Let’s be a good friend and act in healthy and productive ways others would admire - home, work and elsewhere.

Who knows, maybe we’d make headlines too. Have a good week. For those where that just ain’t possible right now, hang in there!

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