WBSM’s Barry Richard on the Passing of His Father
My father was not a great man. He didn't toil over test tubes in a lab while finding a cure for some horrible disease like great men do.
My father didn't explore distant continents or travel into space aboard a rocket ship like the great men who circled the Earth and walked on the surface of the moon.
My father was never President of the United States of America. He didn't write great books, produce epic films, conduct symphonies, or hit home runs at Fenway Park.
My father wasn't a great man.
But he was a good man.
My father jumped out of planes and built bridges for the U.S. Army in Europe in the 1950s.
My father made shoes and carried bundles of roofing shingles up ladders on his shoulder. He laid hot tar on flat roofs and scorching hot days and swept floors and shoveled snow for the New Bedford School Department.
My father took my brother and me hiking in Brooklawn Park and camping in the woods in New Hampshire and Connecticut. He introduced me to baseball, cribbage, classical music, and Paul Harvey. My father taught me to read and to never stop learning.
My father would captivate a room full of kids – and adults – with his recitation of "The Old Lady Who Swallowed the Fly." He would serenade my mother with his penny whistle and spend hours painting family crests on slate shingles for anyone who wanted one. They were displayed proudly throughout the area, especially in the Irish pubs.
My father put food on the table and clothes on our backs, and when Mom was breathing her last breath, defeated by the evil scourge of cancer, my father stayed by her side, placing droplets of water in her mouth to keep her hydrated.
My father, Joseph Donald Richard, was born in New Bedford on October 5, 1934. To some, he was Joe, but most who knew him called him Donald. I called him Dad.
My father was married to my mother, his beloved Peggy, for 40 years. When she passed away in 1995, he moved to California, met a woman, and began a new life.
My father recently suffered a stroke. After lingering for a week, he died last Saturday. My father was 88 years old.
My father and I didn't see each other in recent years. Some old issues, time, and distance kept us apart. I wish I had done more to fix things. I wanted to. I just didn't. That's on me.
I'm not sure I ever told my father that I loved him or thanked him for all he did for us and all he sacrificed. We just weren't that way. I think he knew. I know he was proud of me, though I'm not sure he always understood me.
My father was not a great man, but he was a good man. In fact, he was a very good man.
And I miss him.
Thank you, Dad. I love you.