My father passed away on Thursday at a pretty young age, just shy of his 57th birthday. I guess I've been going through the normal motions; I didn't want to believe it at first, was angry when I was told to, and now just feel sad. I'm sure anyone that has lost a family member can relate; it's just a shitty situation, one that makes you feel entirely helpless. At the end of the day, all you can really do is sit back and try to think of the happiest memories you had with that person. For me, it was never one single moment. My Dad and I had plenty of common, but two major interests extended just to us, and not to other members of my immediate family. We loved action movies (good, bad, so bad it's good, you name it), and we both could fall in love with any sport once we started following it.
The latter wasn't always true for my father. He was an athlete in his youth; star for his community soccer team, kicker on the football team, but sitting still for three hours in a crowded stadium just wasn't his bag. He liked being a casual fan, but hard stats and following team updates every day was just too much for him.
However, I grew older, and started to drift away from home. School, jobs, you know, all that jazz. As I started to chase my interests, I started calling home less. My dad must have sensed this pretty quick, because before I knew it, he was calling me with all sports related news in the province. I didn't know it at the time, but he was devoting himself to Vancouver sports simply because he wanted to remain close with me.
So, when I would go visit him, we would spend countless hours in the basement, where he harbored his big screen TV. We had a pretty good system on a weekend; pop in something like The Last BoyScout, and then when that was over, flip the TV to whatever sporting event was on. A few times it was the Whitecaps, and every time it was, my Dad would tell me of his youthful exploits on the soccer pitch. I heard a lot of cool stories that way, and got to see the old man from a different point of view. It's strange, but I guess I had just never pictured him as a teenager, you know? Dads seem like they're born as Dads.
I'm eternally grateful to sports in general for the effect it had on our relationship. My father and I would have never drifted fully apart, but having a common bond between us definitely meant we spoke more. We shared stories more, we had more jokes to tell. Considering that his life was shorter, I cherish those moments, those memories. I cherish the derision we threw at opponents through the TV screen when they collapsed on the pitch in mock agony. I cherish the way he used to cheer exactly the same way for every goal, whether it was hockey or soccer, and I cherish the sports history that we watched unfold together through every game in any sport.
I'm not the first person to write on the effect sports can have on relationships in life, whether it be a parent, spouse, friend of sibling. I'm certainly not the best, either. I guess I just wanted to talk a little about my Dad, the late convert to the sports scene, and how much I miss him.
I love you Dad; now, do you think you could help us out for the rest of the season?
James Matthew Szekeres served in the Vancouver Police Department for 16 years, eventually rising to the rank of Media Relations officer. He passed away on Thursday, April 17th, at the age of 56.