My dad, Jim Dickson, passed away early July 30 at age 80. Dad fought a four-year battle with a disease called Multiple Systems Atrophy and, in the end, the disease and old age caught up with him.
I’m now trying to write a column that can sum up the love and everything else Dad and I shared throughout the many years.
The fact is I can't write a column that will do our relationship justice. It's impossible to put into words a bond we often had trouble describing ourselves. But I'll give it a try.
In the movie "The Natural" there's a scene where Roy Hobbs and Iris Gaines talk about their teenage son, who Hobbs knows nothing about.
Gaines says, "My boy is getting to that age where he needs his father." Hobbs replies, "Sure — a father makes all the difference."
Dad made all the difference in my life; he taught me how to throw a baseball, swing a baseball bat, play basketball and ride a bicycle. He would wait in the deep water when I went off the high dive — not trusting just any lifeguard to come to my rescue if something were to happen to me.
I always felt secure knowing Dad was waiting in the water below. I was never afraid to get in over my head because I trusted that he was strong enough to keep me from harm.
Dad shared his love for the University of Tennessee Volunteers with me. Dad was a Volunteer fan so it seemed only natural that I too became a Tennessee fan. We only saw four UT games together live and in person, but we watched countless others together on TV.
Even though we lived 400 miles apart, we managed to watch the games together. Dad would be in his favorite recliner at his place and me in my favorite chair at home as we cheered on the Big Orange.
As is the case with most good fathers, Dad took time to not only teach me the basics of sports but the basics of life as well.
He taught me many of those life lessons as we threw an old baseball around the backyard. The most important lesson he taught me during those long ago games of catch is to take time for those you love.
I know Dad might not have always felt like playing catch, but he was making time for me that I'll always treasure. He was forming a bond that remained strong right up until the very end of his life and, I believe, will last forever.
I could tell you of the years he worked for the railroad or the years afterward that he spent as a Baptist preacher. There were years, before he became a preacher, that were spent coaching youth league sports in Gulf Breeze and working with kids at First Baptist Church of Gulf Breeze.
Dad was many things to many people, but I was his only son.
I know when a Tennessee football game is on TV in a few weeks that I'll instinctively reach for the phone to call Dad and discuss the game’s ebb and flow.
When I have a question about spiritual things, I'll miss his wise counsel.
I've been told that most fathers and sons don't connect at the emotional level that Dad and I did. I have friends that have never heard their dad tell them how much they love them.
I never doubted in word or deed the depth of love Dad had for me and will continue to have forever.
There will be no more games of catch and no more phone calls, but Jim Dickson will remain my guiding light for the rest of my life.
Dad was one of a kind — the finest kind.
I will miss my role model, hero and friend until I see him again in Heaven.
Thanks for everything Dad.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.