Sunday, December 30, 2012

I haven't written in a long time. I got married.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

About Pete Cadwell

As an eleven-year-old during the summer of 1982, I was excited to find myself seeded 10th in 11-12 year old boys 50 Meter Backstroke event at the Granite State Swimming Association Championships. As I sat in the bullpen, waiting for my heat, I struck up a conversation with a lanky kid from another team sitting next to me on the bleachers. He was seeded 9th, just a split-second faster than I was, and he said he was hoping to do well, but was quick to point out that Backstroke was not his best event. As a backstroke specialist, I was hoping that my best would be better than his on that day. Before we left the bullpen area to go to our lanes, I asked him his name.

“Pete Cadwell,” he replied.

“Good luck, Pete.”

“You too.”

It was the first time I ever spoke to Pete. I had heard his name before in swimming circles. Everyone in our age group pretty much acknowledged that Pete Cadwell was the fastest swimmer in the state. He had set numerous state records. Now I had finally met him and was about to race against him for the first of probably over 200 times over the next seven years. Pete beat me that day, and on every other occasion we raced each other.

A few years later, I joined the Nashua YMCA Prospectors swim team and became a teammate of Pete’s and got to know him a little better. This extended beyond the pool too. Pete’s mother Jane, was the awesome and ever-present team Mom and administrator. We all knew Mrs. Cadwell was very instrumental in our team’s success. To me, Pete’s sister Stephanie, a great swimmer in her own right, was the coolest “big kid” on the team as she treated all of her “little” brother’s friends with respect. (Steph, if you ever read this, I do realize that there is only a year separating us, but it seemed to be a lot at that age.) Pete’s Dad, Pete, Sr. was hilarious and Pete, Jr. exhibited that same sense of humor.

I remember a party at the Leonards’ house where several of our teammates were gathered around the television watching a movie. Pete had the idea to play a prank on everyone. A few of us sneaked outside and stood outside the window of the room where the others were watching the movie. Pete had taken the VCR remote control and aimed it through the window and started messing with the movie. It caused a minor commotion inside, but didn’t get the reaction for which he was hoping. Not deterred, Pete, in a ghostly sounding voice, said loudly through the closed window, “Goooooose is Deaaaaaad!” Our teammates turned and saw us outside and started yelling. Before the term “spoiler” became popular, Pete was yelled at for spoiling the movie Top Gun.

I was fortunate to be on several relays with Pete. Some of my fondest memories from those days are racing with Pete and knowing that no matter how far behind we were, we always had a chance with him on our team. You see, Pete was our anchor… unless he we needed a lead, then he would lead off. He was whatever we needed whenever we needed it. I was not at all surprised that Pete ran 25 miles last year to raise lots of money for Partners in Health after the earthquake in Haiti last year.

Pete and I often swam the same events and I recall one meet when I was talking to an opposing swimmer before a race and he said, “It must suck swimming with Pete, knowing you are always shooting for second place.”

“I am so glad he’s on MY team and not someone else’s,” was my reply.

For someone who was so freaking good, I could have never asked for a better teammate in every way. He excelled without attitude or arrogance and he was our leader.

It had been a couple of years since I had seen Pete when I saw him walk into Martha’s Exchange in Nashua on Halloween in 1997. I looked ridiculous in costume, sporting a “Juan Epstein” style wig, bell bottoms, wide collar shirt and vintage 70’s leather jacket. Pete flashed his ever-present sense of humor.

“No costume tonight, huh, Ian?”

It was the last time I spoke to Peter in person. Not many people can probably remember both the first time and the last time they spoke with someone, but Pete was that kind of a guy. He made an impression on me and on a lot of people. His untimely passing is so sad and he will be greatly missed by so many who knew him. I have never met his wife or his children, but would want them to know that Peter was loved by so many people. I am so truly sorry for their loss.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

World's Greatest Dad

I wasn’t sure exactly what I was looking for, but I knew that I could find something perfect. The cafeteria of the Courthouse Elementary School was filled with tables and those tables were filled with potential Christmas presents for my father. My budget was the $2.00 worth of change that I had scraped up scouring my bedroom.

I perused each table and finally had decided that I was probably going to get him that screwdriver set I saw on the second table. I knew he liked screwdrivers. He had a bunch of them and used them all the time. Of course back in the late 1970s I hadn’t grasped the concept that my father used screwdrivers because he needed to fix stuff, not because he liked using them. I also didn’t really realize that he had a lot of screwdrivers and did not likely need another cheap set purchased at the elementary school Christmas gift fair.

The last table in the group still had lots of stuff on it, but I was sure there was nothing better than those $2 screwdrivers… but then I saw it. I knew instantly that it was the best gift I could get for my father. It was a little statue about 3-4 inches tall that was made out of some unidentified material. It wasn’t wood, plastic, or metal. It must have been some sort of resin or something. It was a yellowish tan figure of a guy standing there with the clear label on the base, “World’s Greatest Dad.”

I wasn’t sure how such a prize was available to me in my little corner of the world and certainly was glad to see it was within my budget. It was the perfect Christmas gift for a guy I knew was, in fact, the World’s Greatest Dad. I knew he would love it.

This is my first Father’s Day without my Dad. He was a great Dad. Whether it is because of the advice that he gave, the example that he set, or the way he acted like a shitty little statue was the greatest gift he ever got, I miss him all the time.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New Entry

It took a while. I can't believe it has been three months since I wrote an entry. Anyway, I started a new job in te beginning of March. I love it. I am doing the same thing as before, but doing it closer to home and getting paid more.

Brandon's last day of school is Thursday. No vacations planned yet this summer but we are hoping to get away. We were thinking about doing a cruise but an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico may put that on hold.

That's all for now. I'll try to write something funny, clever, or touching soon.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Duke Boys

Yesterday I wrote an in depth analysis of the show "The Dukes of Hazzard" and it all got wiped out somehow and isn't on this page. I'll sum it up with one question since I don't feel like typing the whole thing out again.

Since Boss Hogg always wanted Roscoe P. Coletrain to arrest the Duke boys and he'd end up chasing their car all over Hazzard County, why didn't he ever just go to Uncle Jesse's house and arrest them there without a chase?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sometime Around the Year 3000

I imagine that sometime around the year 3000, some history buff will happen across an ancient DVR or TiVo and wonder what it is. They will look at it like we look at a Lyre, or like someone from Maine looks at a toothbrush. They will do painstaking research to find out for what use the device was created.

"Television? What's that? You mean they had to wait until specific days and times to be entertained before this device?" They will learn that people had to actually sit in a room and watch a television where images and sounds were created and used to entertain and inform people. They will search out a way to find a "television" and figure out a way to power up the devices.

On one of these DVR machines they will come across a leftover recording of the Today show or some local newscast and some recording of Al Roker or someone like that will talk about Punxsutawney Phil and how he saw his shadow and how we can expect six more weeks of winter as indicated by the groundhog's fear of his shadow and subsequent decision to go back into his hole in the ground.

And then that person will say, "What a bunch of fucking idiots."

Happy Groundhog's Day, everyone.

Monday, January 11, 2010

More about Dad

When I spoke at my father's funeral, it was with the belief that while he knew a great number of people, there probably were not a great number of people who would stand up to speak at the funeral. I wanted to be sure that there was not just silence when we were given the opportunity.

After I spoke, a high school friend of my father's got up and spoke about how they used to sneak my grandmother's corvair out and time themselves trying to make a 1 mile stretch of curvy road in under 1 minute. Flat straightaways are few and far between in New Hampshire.

Several others spoke as well, far more than I had expected.

My father's next door neighbor spoke of how many things they shared in common. It was astonishing. They had kids about the same age. Worked at the same place, had the same hobbies, belonged to the same Masonic Lodge and on and on. One of their only differences, he pointed out, was that my father was over 6 feet tall and he was under.

Another neighbor spoke of my father's generally good disposition and of how he sold my father his lawnmower and then asked him to borrow it a few days later to mow his lawn. His hairdresser spoke about the first time she cut his hair 28 years ago... a story that has been repeated several times over the years and dealt with exactly what it means when someone says they want their hair cut "over the ears."

A friend of my dad's (and my former swim coach) talked about the many challenges my father took on and how he the way he lived his life reminded him of John Wooden telling his players to try to make each day their masterpiece.

My dad's cousin told a story about how cool of a cousin he was and how he and she use to try to switch positions on the T-bar when going up the mountain skiing.

My dad's boss talked about his hiring. He talked about how my father's interview was really just a courtesy to my mother who had worked at the company for years but how my father gave the most complete and well prepared interview he had ever seen. He praised my father for his work ethic and his reliabilty.

My sister Emily told a story about my father teaching her how to drive and how while she did not appreciate his methods at the time, everything he did to "torture" us growing up was intended to make us better later in life.

My old college roommate Tony told a story about teaching his own son to drive and how he had unintentionally used some of the same methods that I had shared with him about my father teaching me. He laughed when he realized how my father had unknowingly influenced him.

A lot of people spoke, and I have probably left out a couple. There were two that stood out the most to me.

First was a friend and former co-worker of my father's named Mark. Mark was layed off from the place where the two of them worked together. A few months later, with no success in looking for a job, he mentioned to my Dad how he had trouble because his Jeep was in need of inspection and it would not pass because the tires were too worn. He did not have any money to buy new tires so was going to have to drive it uninspected on those tires until he could make some money. He came home the next day and had four tires sitting in his yard. My father had bought new tires for his own Jeep and gave Mark the slightly worn tires he had been using. I had never heard this story before the funeral and was very glad my father had helped this man in his time of need.

The last, and most impressive story came from a former employee of my father.

The funeral was almost over. The funeral director was clearly wrapping things up and this man came forward asking for a chance to say one last thing. He was a short man and was of East Indian descent. I recognized him only because he had introduced himself to me before the funeral. With apparent nervousness and a heavy accent, he began to speak.

"I work for Chip for six year. When I look for a job he interview me and he is very nice. When I work for him I never see anything on his face but a smile. In six year he never say a thing to hurt my feeling. He help me and my whole family. He is a good man to work for. When he leave (company) we walk out the door with him and he gave me his book to help me understand some things. There were some tears on my face. Thank you"

This was the most moving of all of the speakers, in my opinion. Despite the fact that the service was ending, he felt compelled to speak, knowing he would never get another chance to say those things in that forum. Despite his obviously difficulties with the language, he stood up and told this story and blew away those assembled with his simple story of how with nothing more than a little kindness and decency, my father had made an immense impact on his life.