Knowing the importance of little things

Sunday, June 17, 2007 | 12:18 a.m. CDT; updated 8:25 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

I have a tiny video clip of my father.

It’s a three-second clip that I made with a digital camera. I wasn’t trying to make a film, do anything special. I was just playing around with the camera.

In the clip, my dad isn’t doing anything important. He’s throwing out an old pizza box.

Three seconds, that’s all. Nothing important. But I watch it frequently.

Because we never know when things are going to end.

In February, my father died. And that makes today the first Father’s Day of my life that I don’t have a father. I know that thought means more to me than it means to you. And I really don’t intend to bring down any heavy moral hammer here.

I guess I just had to say it, get it out. See how it feels.

The truth is, like you, I bought my dad a lot of gifts through the years. Ties. Shirts. A goofy wide-brimmed straw hat, with a University of Missouri band, that he wore when he went golfing. Let’s just say, it was so him.

But this is also the truth. He didn’t want any of those gifts. I think I know that now.

What I know now is that what my dad wanted was to hear from me. He wanted to know how I was doing. He wanted something to talk about with his friends. He wanted to know that his son was all right and, most importantly, he wanted to feel that his son wanted to talk with him.

It’s that simple. Nothing big. But how come I didn’t understand that until now?

We never know how things will end. As it turned out, the day my dad died, we talked on the phone.

We talked about the Missouri-Kansas basketball game coming up that night and whether he’d watch it on television.

Nothing important. It could have been about anything. The weather. His golf game. My work. The price of gasoline.

A few hours later, my mom called to tell me that he’d died.

And now, four months later, that’s me watching a tiny video clip on my computer screen.

Again and again. Three seconds. He’s throwing away a pizza box. Sometimes I cry. How stupid is that?

I’m sorry. This isn’t supposed to be complicated.

Today is Father’s Day. Call your dad, if you can.

Because we usually don’t know how things will end. Or realize how much little things can mean.

The weather. Sports. The price of gasoline.

A pizza box.

Greg Bowers is sports editor

at the Missourian.

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