You know, he’s been gone for better than five years. But I still remember his words about caution and good decisions as clearly as if my dad is still talking to me as I walk out the door.
Like a lot of other sports fans, and particularly baseball fans, I was shocked and emotionally drained Sunday at the news that Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez had been killed in a boating accident at 3 am in the morning.
He and two other friends were found dead and their boat capsized, apparently from ramming into a rock reef on Miami Beach at a high rate of speed. Sad news. Tragic news. But accidents, we’re prone to say, happen.
But I confess to you now that the first thing that went through my mind after hearing about 24-year-old Fernandez were the words that my father and mother used to preach to me every weekend, and later in college, every time I had the occasion to visit with them.
“Remember,” my dad would say when I left the house on Friday high school football nights to pal around with Dick Crump, Terry Hentrich, Dave Vosler and others, “…nothing good ever happens after midnight. You be home early!”
Later, when I was at Ohio State, one of them would regularly call if events on campus were in the news…the Michigan football game, protests on High Street, or even just idle time during spring break.
“Remember who you are and stay away from trouble,” Dad would caution.
I think of his words often, still, because it seems from tragedies like Jose Fernandez and what happened with the Charlotte riots last week…there aren’t a lot of parents giving that kind of advice to their kids anymore. There aren’t a lot of parents there to tell them, or certainly not enough!
I found the coverage of the Charlotte protests last week interesting for the number of people just wandering around on the streets not protesting at all; but just wanting to be part of the crowd. Dad always called it, “putting yourself in harm’s way.” He didn’t take a lot of chances, you understand.
But there was one young kid, couldn’t have been 15 years old, out riding a bicycle in a figure 8 pattern in the midst of the protesting marchers, oblivious to anything else but his own entertainment. And at 15…that’s a dangerous form of amusement! Dad would have jerked him off that bicycle and he wouldn’t have seen the light of day, or the bicycle, until, oh, sometime next April…maybe!
As I grow older as an adult it’s never been a problem for me – being at risk late at night – because for some reason I just find the comfort and security of my own living room more desirable. I think Dad had a lot to do with that.
And I also remember those Friday nights with my friends when we all seemed to know when to turn for home – as if we all knew that nothing good happens after midnight. Crump, Hentrich, and Vosler…we’d all gotten the same speech.
Now, I don’t think it happens much. Although I’m amused at the example of my own kids, who work long hours, and with responsibilities of higher priority than just being a pain in the butt to authorities…now tell me how good going to bed sounds at 10 o’clock. Once upon a time, when they were still under my roof, we used to have that same talk – the one that doesn’t happen much anymore.
Nothing good EVER happens after midnight!