Fathers and Sons

Fathers and Sons

It was the teddy bear.

On a long table in the funeral parlor, next to baseball hats, an Indian Guides vest, golf paraphernalia and dozens of pictures, the teddy bear left me choked up.

I returned from a family vacation to say goodbye to Henry Osterkamp, a friend for over 35 years.

His death was sudden, too soon.  I had not seen him in some time but out of sight did not mean out of mind.

If there were one word to describe Henry it would be appetite.  He was a big, passionate man with a huge heart, standing 6'3 with a booming voice and a look that reminded me of the actor John Goodman.

He had a zest for life and lived it on his own terms.  Late last year he left the corporate world for good, taking time to play poker tournaments and connect with friends and family.

Henry was funny and smart.  When he entered the room it was impossible not to smile.

And he was good to my kids, which made him golden.

Upon meeting him at the age of 5 my twins managed to scale his bulky frame as if climbing Mount Rainier,  their tiny laughs no match for his thunderous, playful demeanor.

Now he's gone, and I am left shaken.

The day after the memorial service, Fathers Day, I took my kids to the pool.  I found myself in tears, again, saddened about Henry's death.  My now teenage son, the mountain climber,  started to ask what was wrong but stopped.  I told him how sad I was, sad that Henry died without being a father.  His life was rich though, I said, rich in friends, family and experiences.

Then it hit me.

I have lost other friends, sadly, but this was different because my memories of Henry are intertwined with our fathers.

The four of us loved our sports, and we went, because back then you could go to a baseball game for less than a car payment.

We always had a blast, even through rain delays or sitting for an hour in a parking lot waiting to exit the old Comiskey Park.

On a hot Fathers Day afternoon, I looked into my son's eyes and he looked back, silently.  As his childhood flies by, part of mine ended.

He got it.  We got it.  And it was good to cry.

Godspeed my friend.

Henry George Osterkamp

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  • fb_avatar

    Nice tribute to a good guy. Thanks, Bill.

  • In reply to Barry Doyle:

    Thanks Barry

  • fb_avatar

    You had me a the teddy bear. You brought tears to my eyes. I understand that kind of loss and my heat goes out to you.

  • In reply to Susan Cooper:

    Thank you Susan for reading and for your comment.

  • Hi bill I think this is an excellent way to give tribute to a lost friend and his memory will continue to live on. Sometimes we do not realize what we have until it's gone. Best wishes to you and your family.

  • Carlo thanks for taking time to read the post and for your comment. I really appreciate it.

  • fb_avatar

    I keep coming back to read this. Never knew about Comiskey with my dad :). When I asked him about this memory, he had a very happy look on his face. I think he had even forgotten it. Thank you for bringing a little joy to my father.

  • In reply to Margie Goliak:

    They used to have "straight A, perfect attendance" nights sponsored by Interlake, which went the way of old Comiskey Park. Henry was the straight A guy. I was the guy who showed up for school.

  • Such a moving tribute, Bill. It reminded me about my friend who passed away a couple of years after we both graduated from college. She was a young girl full of promise and dreams, but was taken away so soon by a rare lung disease. As I look back, I realize that although she is no longer here, she still continues to inspire me with her strength, determination and the ability to see the good in everyone.

  • In reply to Adeline:

    Thank you so much for reading and for you comments. It's a shame when people die young but the memories do live on.

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