Father’s Day is bittersweet around our house, since my dad passed away in 1992 and my wife Kathy’s father died a few years later. My kids never got to know their grandfathers, and in a way I never got to know these two men as well as I should have.
I was 31 when my dad, Patrick Pearse O’Regan Sr., died of cancer and congestive heart failure and hadn’t yet reached that stage where I truly appreciated – or thanked him for – all the things, large and small, that he did for me over the years. Neither of us were big talkers, so we didn’t share a lot of Hallmark moments between father and son. (Our sex talk came when I was 17 and had been dating a girl for a few years. One night he asked, “Are you sleeping with her?” “Nope,” I lied. “Good,” he said. “Don’t do anything stupid.” That was that.) We called him The Big Guy, and he led by example, not by words. Not all of his examples were the best, but he taught me the value of hard work, the benefits of a sense of humor and, indirectly at least, the importance of family.
Robert “Dave” Davidson, my father-in-law, was both gregarious and laid back, two traits you might expect from a Californian. Our physical distance – Kathy and I lived in San Diego for a few years but moved back East in 1986 – kept “Mr. D” and I from bonding, but I always enjoyed his company and his perspectives, and he seemed happy with his daughter’s choice of a husband. Dave was healthy as a horse and amazingly active with his wife Helen until multiple myeloma took him swiftly and shockingly. I wish I had the chance to get to know him better.
So now I try to spend more time with our three kids, asking them a lot of annoying questions, coaching their teams, driving them everywhere, and just being there if they need me. We had a good Father’s Day this year – waffles for breakfast, a day game at Fenway Park, a quiet night at home. Somewhere, I hope the Big Guy and Mr. D are happy with what they see down here.