hit more fairways. make more putts. avoid the hazards. play by the rules.
Recent Silence

Posted on Monday 22 May 2006

I’ve taken breaks from writing here before, but none like this one. I can’t recall a period of time when my life has been filled with such short cycles of ups and downs as this past 8 months or so. Today’s a microcosm: twin peaks of good news (making some headway on a prolonged business negotiation and Gigi’s and my 24th wedding anniversary) sandwiched around the deepest of the valleys, the loss of my father 10 days ago.

His death was not especially unexpected, although there can never be enough preparation. He’d been in and out of the three different hospitals and two rehabilitation facilities in the past 14 months or so and suffered many setbacks. He merely succumbed to his latest.

He was the most unselfish man I’ve ever known, even at the very moment he passed away. His generosity – of his time, his energy, his talents and his spirit – is mirrored by the many expressions of sympathy and condolence that my family and I have so gratefully received since his death. Some have been intensely personal – flowers, letters, calls, visits – and some have been paying one’s respects to a colleague, but every one – every single one – has been appreciated.

Over the years I’ve been constantly amazed at how quickly people realized what kind of man he was – it seemed to take mere seconds, if that. As a boy, of course, I revered my dad. I couldn’t have been prouder when people would say, “Oh, so you’re Joe Barse’s son.” The admiration for him was obvious in their voice, but I just figured that they idolized my dad the same way I did. I mean, to my Cub Scout’s brain, why wouldn’t they?

The teenaged me didn’t hear the heritage question quite the same way, of course. All I wanted was to be known for my own deeds, for my own self. Every utterance of “Are you Joe Barse’s son?’ seemed to carry overtones of judgement and often disapproval – or at least that’s what I heard. In a happy coincidence, I finally stopped hearing the subvocalizations about the same time I emerged from adolescence, which I’ve been told was sometime in my late-20s.

It wasn’t all horrible, though, at least for me. In my ‘hair-down-to-my-waist, if-what-i’ve-done-so-far-hasn’t-shocked-you, try-this’ period, the inflection in the question changed again. Looking at that scruffy hippie, people asked, completely inable to hide their incredulity, “You’re Joe Barse’s son?” I just loved the expressions of disbelief when I proclaimed it so. Dad appreciated the shock value a bit, too, although he seldom let on that he got it, at least at the time.

As a man, thankfully, I’ve heard the tone change again, sounding familiar in an oddly comforting way. “Are you Joe Barse’s son?” The admiration is back in their voices; they can’t wait to tell their Joe Barse story, and I can’t wait to hear it. The teenager’s angst has been banished at last, and the boy’s pride has a new dimension – honor.

“Yes, yes I am,” I say, standing just a little bit taller and maybe letting the Cub Scout back out for a brief second. “Yes, I am Joe Barse’s son.”

I love you, Dad.

3 Comments for 'Recent Silence'

    kane chris
    December 26, 2008 | 4:49 pm


    kane chris
    December 26, 2008 | 4:52 pm


    Tom Pickford
    December 31, 2009 | 9:33 pm

    Dear Jack, I’m so sorry to hear your Dad passed away-He was always so much fun to be around-I knew Him mostly @ the Marlin fishing events and he was always laughing…I know ur dad was a good friend of my Dad…Sincerely Tom

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