Marc Daniels: It's Been More Than A Year Since I've Done This

Divisional Series - Minnesota Twins v New York Yankees - Game One

Next week is my birthday. It will mark the second straight birthday I will not get that call from my dad wishing me a happy and healthy year. Dad passed away in late October of 2019. He lost a battle with cancer. I have talked about my dad often on the radio show since his passing. My dad was one of my two best friends. I lost my brother years ago. He was my other best friend. I miss them dearly. I miss hearing their voices and talking sports and just checking in.

My mom lives in south Florida. It's been a tough year and a half since my dad for my mom. Shortly after he died, COVID shut down much for all of us. To keep my mom safe, my sister and I chose to keep mom where she has been living for almost 25 years. The plan was to have mom move in with my sister. But the virus delayed those plans. We wanted mom safe in her surroundings and for the past 14 months she has done the best she can. But isolation and being alone is hard, especially for an 84-year old woman.

I call my mom two times every day. We talk. We share stories. I tell her how proud I am of how she has handled the past year. I have traveled to see her a few times but in trying to keep her safe, kept a distance. I haven't hugged my mom in more than a year.

When she got her chance to get a vaccine shot, she sat in my sister's car and waited more than six hours for a first shot and then more than five hours for her second shot. That was not easy for her, but mom is tough.

As we prepare to move mom from where she has lived and in with my sister, it's been slow and hard for her to slowly go through the many closets, files and memories. Those memories are hard at times but mom recently came across a few items our family didn't know my dad had saved.

I have shared the story of how my dad was injured in combat during the Korean War. He was shot in the head. My dad went through numerous surgeries and lived with a large part of that bullet in the back of his head for the rest of his life but you would never know if you ever met my dad. But my sister and mom came across the Western Union telegram the Army sent to my dad's mom and sister that he was severely injured with a head wound. It took four days to arrive. That file also included my dad's high school yearbook. It was incredible to see his pictures and read about his sports accomplishments.

There are more pictures and files to go through and I will sit with mom and go through as many as we can and we will remember, laugh and cry. 

I called my dad after every UCF game- no matter the outcome and no matter how late it was.Dad just wanted to know what happened and we'd talk about the game and who played well.Dad was so engaged in 2019 when the UCF Basketball team went to the NCAA Tournament and almost beat Duke. He loved Tacko Fall and after that lose to the Blue Devils I did more listening than talking as dad described what he watched and why UCF should have won that.

When my dad was struggling in his final days, I made the trip down to the hospital from Orlando and back nine times over a 17-day period. We watched the Astros beat the Yankees in the playoffs. Dad tried to watch as much of the games as he could. He said to me the Yankees could use a pitcher like Garrit Cole. He never got to see Cole pitch for the team he loved. Those were the final games I watched with my dad.

I have four voicemail messages that I saved that have my dad leaving a message he left hundreds of times. It's hard to listen but I will play them next week on my birthday.

My sister found a column I wrote about my dad from almost 20 years ago. What I am most proud of is that everything I wrote about then is exactly how I feel today. I am not sure what other items mom and I will find. But no matter what we find, I will cherish the time with mom. For the first time in more than a year, as someone fully vaccinated, I will hug my mom. She will ask me about my family and want to see pictures because she can see things now she hasn't seen in years after surgery on her eyes. And yes, mom will ask me how UCF Baseball is doing. She does that because it's one of her ways to remain connected to dad. And rarely does a night go by that she won't ask how the Yankees did and "that pitcher dad talked about"(Garrit Cole).

This column is about me and my family. It's not some sports hot take or something contrived. I share it as a form of therapy for me. Many of you have lost a parent or loved one and know the many feelings I share. If this made you smile and think about that special someone to you, then it was worth writing all of this.

Hug a loved one. You'll never know when you won't get to it again. 

Final thought: Female spiders often eat their mate

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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