Happy Father's Day dads. In my 29 years I have met and been molded by many terrific fathers. Grace guy dads, coaches, teachers, the good years I was able to spend with my own dad and good, old, Poppa Jamerson. My father in law Donnie, who I now call Pops has been a remarkable role model in my life during some formidable years. Firstly, he trusted me with his daughters hand when I asked his permission to marry Michelle. He has picked me up and brushed me off when I've made a complete drunken ass of myself. He has rallied in my corner and fought ALS tooth and nail with me. He loves harder and more passionately than any other man I know, and for that I'm proud to be your son in law.
Lon Grahnke was my dad, and this September will be 10 years since he passed. I remember my dad differently then my sister Eliza and my brother Kurt. Due to Eliza's disability, she only remembers the happy go lucky dad. Kurt, due to his age really only experienced the tough times with Dad. As the oldest child, I have a more rounded recollection of Dad. I knew him as a sociable protector, the big guy who would engage with anyone and wasn't scared of anyone. The guy who worked his ass off to help me be the scrappiest baseball player out there. Analyzing 9 year old pitchers so I would know when to take pitches and when to go yard. I also experienced the years he struggled with alcohol and would come home hammered or we'd pick him up at the police station. I also vividly remember when my mom explained to me as a young teen that my dad had early onset Alzheimers. I watched the total bad ass I knew as Dad wither away. I argued with him about why he shouldn't eat vegetables out of the can, I had to tell him that grandma was related to him, and shove him when he questioned who Kurt was and would get aggressive with a 10 year old.
I share a lot of attributes with my old man. We both have very round heads, we will never give up on the White Sox, we're both stubborn to a fault, and unfortunately, we both have had to fight ferocious neurological diseases. Dementia took Dad out. He fought it like hell, he found God along the way, he did his best to embrace the things he held near and dear to his heart before his mind quit on him. I fight ALS day in and day out the same way. Having a parent with Altzheimers has given me an odd perspective. As terrible as ALS is I can still take solace in knowing that my mind won't ever give up on me. As I read back through this post I realize it isn't exactly one of my happier posts. But then again, everything in life isn't happy. However, you can always find Grace in life. Sometimes it slaps you in the face, other times you have to reflect before it comes to you.
The Grace I clearly find in my experience with Dad's is that sometimes you have to experience the extremely tough times to appreciate how great life is now. The tough times show you how important it is to thank God for the ordinary. The ordinary is extraordinary as far as I'm concerned. Do I wish things could have been different with my dad? To an extent, but without the hardships my family endured we wouldn't be the awesome people we are today, and I sure do love being awesome.