I know, I know, it’s been a long time since I wrote you. But come on, you died over 19 years ago and didn’t leave a forwarding address. That’s on you!
With today being Father’s Day, I’ve been thinking about you a lot, Don Gonos. Thought about your love of sports and games and how that trait has certainly passed on to me. Your quick temper made its way into my bloodstream, but thankfully, people have told me that your quick wit has also found a home in my DNA.
Young vs. Middle-Aged
When you last saw me, I was a strapping young buck (22) with 10 lifetimes ahead of me, or so I thought. Even in the last few years of your life, we didn’t communicate much. I was busy working on women, perfecting drunkenness or trying to make a quick buck. But when we did see each other after some time, you were quick to make me smile, pointing out the 10-15 pounds I had put on since we last spoke, “Dave, what happened? Did your chest have an avalanche?” (One of my all-time favorite Dad quotes!)
By the way, those extra pounds have turned into quite a few more extra pounds. Don’t judge me! Cold Stone Creamery wasn’t around when you were alive!
College had become a secondary quest for me, despite your wishes, as I was engaged to be married for the first time. I remember when you met Robin, the first thing you said was another good one, “Dave, couldn’t you afford a taller wife?”
That marriage lasted 13 years – the same as both of your first two marriages! What the hell?
A lot has happened over the past 19 years, Dad, and I’m not just talking about me.
- Remember O.J. Simpson? Yeah, well, we don’t like him anymore.
- Buffalo lost four straight Super Bowls – including the one against Dallas on the day you died.
- Remember Archie Manning? Loser Saints QB? His sons have three Super Bowl rings between them now.
- And there’s this thing called the Internet now, but I guess if you’re reading this, well, then you’ve heard of it.
Baseball has probably changed the most, though. I know you were a Yankees fan while I was growing up, but remember how you taught me that rooting for an underdog is more satisfying for the soul than rooting for a Goliath that is expected to win everything? The Yankees have become the epitome of MLB’s Goliath – they are always expected to dominate – only to lose to a smaller foe!
And you can scratch off Boston from your “feel-sorry-for” list. They have two titles and are beginning to look a little too Yankee-like. (Hey, I went to Fenway Park a few years ago for the first time since you took me as a kid! And I even sat in right field, close to where we were!)
The Marlins started baseball in Florida right after you died, and Tampa Bay followed suit just five years later. Two baseball teams in Florida!!! Don’t feel bad that you didn’t know that, since it seems like most of Florida still doesn’t know either.
Remember all those baseball cards you bought me as a kid? Well, my love for stats and writing pushed me to write about sports for the past 12 years. Thank you.
The Gonos Lineage
As far as my personal life, well, I’m 40 years old now – married a tall blonde named Sara, who brought her daughter Alissa along with her. Having a step-daughter has been awesome, but now I get paid back for giving you dirty looks once in a while, or going out of my way to not take your advice. If Sara and I have a kid, we should name it Karma.
If we do have a boy, I plan to teach him how to play baseball and tennis and golf, just like you taught me. I’ll teach him how to read a boxscore, and how to cook a steak, and how to clean a fish, like you taught me. I’ll hit “major-league pop-ups” to him in our backyard and I’ll buy him as many books as he wants. Alissa has already become a book monster, devouring anything put in front of her. I don’t think I even read that much as a kid. You would spend hours talking to Alissa — she’s hilarious.
One night, we had make-your-own pizza night at the house, and she reluctantly went along. After she was done, she said it was the best pizza she ever had! Such a simple thing, and such a simple comment. But I’ll always remember that as a special night. It’s weird. It makes me think and wonder how many special moments we had together — many of which I didn’t even realize were special until years later.
One of my favorite all-time you-and-me moments was when I played hooky and we went fishing on Lake Tohopekaliga. We caught some bass and had an awesome time. Whenever I fish now, I think of you. And I think of all those times we sat in silence. Looking back now, though, I wish we weren’t so silent. I wish we talked the entire time.
Your Kids and Grandkids
I’ll tell jokes and stories with Alissa and any future kid, when we take long trips in the car, so that they remember our special time together more than they even remember wherever it was that we went. Just like you did.
Well, Pop, I’m closer to Mark, your other son, than ever before. Your daughter Rosebud, and her kids, come down once in a while too, and it’s always a great time. And being with them, and your two grandsons, Jason and Jeff, makes us think and talk about you often. Every story ends with laughter – without fail. Thanks for not leaving us alone.
I think you’d be proud of the Gonos males, pop. I’m a writer; Mark’s a salesman and a fishing guide; Jeff’s a yacht captain, and Jason is a successful entrepreneur with a college degree. Every one of those skills and abilities came from you. Thank you.
I’m sorry it took me a couple decades to write this.
I love you and I miss you, Dad.