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Father's Day is a tough one

June 21, 2009
By ED PUSKAS Tribune Chronicle Sports Editor

It's weird, the things you remember about certain moments in time.

Just about anyone who was old enough to remember Nov. 22, 1963 can tell you where they were and what they were doing when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

I'm not usually one of those people, although I do remember being at Mike Miller's house on an August day in 1977, when his sister Diana came outside and told us Elvis Presley was dead.

"Yeah, right," several of us responded, almost in unison.

As it turned out, of course, it was no joke.

Aside from the day The King died, there is only one other day I remember so clearly. It was the last time my dad called me.

I was mowing the lawn.

"I think I need to go to the doctor," he said.

Again, no joke. Frank Puskas didn't go to a doctor or hospital unless it was a matter of life and death.

A few minutes later, I got to his house and my worst fear was realized. That was exactly what it was. My dad was pale and clearly in pain. He was 74 by then, and yet, I'd never seen him look so old.

The ride to the hospital was the last time we went anywhere together, unless you count the funeral. My father spent a month in intensive care, but never recovered after two operations.

It's hard to believe it has been 15 years. Everybody goes through this sooner or later, but twice a year it comes back again. His birthday and today - Father's Day - are tough. He has a granddaughter now who he didn't live to see.

Time supposedly helps us deal with the voids death leaves in our lives.

It's been 15 years since we watched the Browns lose together.

It's been 15 years - maybe longer - since we went fishing together.

It's been 15 years since I had to tell my dad I couldn't make it to his place because my presence was required at another of those events I used to think were so important.

My dad wasn't perfect. He had vices, and some of them led to regrets.

I have my own regrets. If my priorities then hadn't mostly involved work and friends, the sense of loss might not be as heavy when it strikes. Of course, I'm always wrong about that. It would still hurt.

It's funny what you remember. For a long time after my dad's hospital stay and death, I avoided mowing the lawn at all costs. The neighbors must have loved that.



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