Today marks the eighth anniversary of my father's death. Anyone who has lost a parent
knows the tsunami of emotions that flood one of life's most difficult, yet enjoyable days.
The memories of my time with my father blitz through my mind like a slickly-edited
highlight package on ESPN. The smiles, laughs, and cherished moments come to life and
there is there is that hope my dad will come around the corner with that big smile
on his face and give me a big hug, which he did almost every day of my life.
It feels like that dream that is so good, and so real, but then you wake up and realize that
wonderful moment that weaved through your mind in a deep sleep, will never happen
However, nobody can take away those moments and times I shared with my dad. They
are etched in my mind and soul forever.
One thing that will never get washed away are the great acts of kindness by the many
people who helped my father during the last five years of his life when he was suffering
from Alzheimer's disease, the wicked thing that robs a person of his mind and memory.
Alzheimer's disease not only changes a person inflicted with it, but often changes the
way people treat them. I spent a lot of time with my father during his last few years,
taking him to his golf club where he was loved and well-respected. My dad was a
funny man with a big personality. He loved life and the Westchester Country Club was
one of his favorite places to be.
However, I noticed after my father was in the grips of Alzheimer's, some of his friends
really didn't know how to react to him. I reckon some of them just wanted to remember
him for who was during all the great times and shied away, which stung me a lot more
than it hurt my dad.
I understand. There is no manual on how to treat someone with Alzheimer's. Some people
can be uncomfortable, others can be shallow, some can act like nothing ever happened.
But there was nobody like Jack Graham, my dad's best friend. He treated my dad not
only like who he had been, but who he was at the time. They had been golfing buddies
and friends for almost 40 years. Graham, who is still going strong at 94-years-old today,
is a man of impeccable character, integrity, and honor. He had Hollywood good-looks and
the most down-to-earth, humble personality few men have ever been blessed with.
My dad had a lot of friends at the club, but none like Jack Graham. My dad knew
he could always count on Graham in the best of times on the course and found out,
Graham would be there through the worst of times, off it. When dad was suffering
from Alzheimer's, Graham was always there for my him. He would often come over
and pick my dad up and take him out for lunch, putting a big smile on his face.
At that point, Alzheimer's didn't always allow my dad's speech to be in sync with
his mind and flowing conversations were often difficult. But Graham was incredibly
patient and made my dad feel comfortable and loved.
That is Jack Graham.
His friendship is unconditional and his care for my dad was unforgettable. He is the
definition of a "best friend".
In many ways, I grew up with Jack Graham. When our family was in the process
of moving from Chicago to New Canaan, CT. before my sophomore year, Graham
welcomed me into his home so I could have a place to stay during summer football
When I tagged along with my dad during his rounds of golf at WCC, I'd often
ride in the cart in-between my dad and Graham. He was as humble on the course as
he was off it. A great athlete who starred on the football field for Boston College,
Graham was an excellent golfer. I'd ask him what he shot after a round and he'd
often say, "I'm not sure. But I hit some good shots." I'd look on his scorecard and
the number of shots would always be in the 70's.
As great a golfer Graham was, he is a better man and person. You'd have to search long
and hard to find anyone to say a single bad thing about Graham. He is beyond reproach
and as pure as they come.
I will never, ever forget how Jack Graham treated my dad through the tough times.
He was so kind, so caring, and such a great friend to my father.
My dad loved Jack Graham.
So do I.
Thank you, Jack Graham. You are the best friend my dad ever had.