They might as well have been saying “Daddy, Daddy, look,” as the boys trotted up and down the basketball court at the Streator YMCA.
Finally I got to watch two of my great-nephews play basketball, and I saw boys looking to the stands where their fathers sat. They looked for instructions, but they also looked for reassurance when they made a good play. For whatever reason, some didn’t have their daddy to look to. In those cases the mommies tried their best to be daddy, too.
To be honest, there really isn’t much I miss because I’m not a father. That is because through my many nephews and nieces (that includes great ones also) and the willingness to share by their parents, I see many great moments in their lives. Not all parents recognize many of these great moments.
These moments aren’t the award-winning moments most might expect. They are when you see a child realize they can do something or feel proud of their accomplishments. Often the child doesn’t even recognize these moments. As a “people watcher” I notice many of these times, even in children unrelated to me. Then, usually silently, I cheer for that child.
I started writing this column a year ago. Since then I have returned to see Clayton and Carson play a few games. I have to report that at the first game a year ago, I observed a father who was there who seemed more interested in his cellphone than watching his son (probably a little over critical on my part.) The last game I went to I saw this same father and I am pleased to tell you that, other than when his son was on the bench, he never took his eyes off the game and his son.
I’m not sure whether this father matured more in his parenting skills or in his ability to contact his friends at times that didn’t interfere with him viewing the game. I believe he improved in both, as when his son was on the bench, he wandered over to the curtain dividing the two games and seemed to be talking to someone on the other side of the curtain. Actually it is my hope he had been an inspiration to another father who was on the other side watching his son, rather than texting my guy while he was at the first game.
Speaking of good fathers, my wife and I finally got over to see Charlie Bassing. Sorry it took us so long, Charlie. He was a good substitute father to me that night by telling me how he agreed with every one of my columns. I guess he is my new biggest fan since I lost Bernice. Charlie, I thought Marie and I were helping you by coming by and spending some time with you, but you continue to be a better man than me. We will have to come by again and you can tell us more about Ronald Reagan.
Goodbye to all you readers, and thanks to all who are more impressed by my columns than I am.
RODNEY VERDINE, of Ottawa, is a husband, assistant director at the La Salle County Detention Home, and is living the Cubbie dream. He can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.