A Son Shares His Thoughts…

April 18, 2010

Family and Friends,

It is with a heavy heart and mixed emotion that I must announce the passing of my father, Richard Mackney, last evening.  Sadness, for our loss. Rage for what was taken. Relief, for a conclusion to his suffering.  Happiness for the time I did get.  Pride, in getting to see the best side of our family and friends for going out of their way to do everything possible to help.

My father asked me to pass along to everyone the great appreciation our family has for all that everyone has done to help our family both personally and in our fundraising efforts. We could not have come as far as we did without it. Every gesture, however large or small seeming, helped in making my father as comfortable as possible during his two year battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS).  The past two weeks were especially unkind to my father but we were connected to Hospice of the Valley and they have been absolutely phenomenal in lending comfort and support.

Per my father’s request, he had no desire, no need, no want for a funeral or a heavy service. In lieu of that, we will be holding a service at Thunder Bird (my father’s school). The people that came out to my father’s fundraisers and the celebratory tone that was struck there meant the world to him. Granted, this will be an inherently more somber occasion but my dad would rather be celebrated. As of yet, the date has not been worked out but I will be sure to let everyone know.

You may call the house and speak with myself or Lindsey but we would also ask your understanding that we would prefer no unannounced drop-by visits.  I am happy to field any questions and you may email me directly, but please bear with me if my correspondence is less than timely.

Forever Rich Mackney’s son,
Keith

Day after musings…

In the earlier part of a boy’s life, “Dad” is likened to “Superhero.”  Playground conversations can segue into ‘my dad can beat up your dad’ as, in his mind, each boy’s father is the strongest man in the world.  Well, at over two hundred pounds, towering at six foot four inches and with my height being closer to the ground, my dad was.  Biggest, strongest man in the world.  Ever.  Knew everything.  Answer any question.  Fix anything himself.  Powerful stare.  And I mean powerful.  One look from him and I would start confessing things.  Even if I wasn’t up to mischief I would just start giving details about whatever I was doing until I was granted reprieve from the stare.

Next part is different.  I’m thirteen. Dad doesn’t know anything and rides me all the time.  Seems to have a personal stake in embarrassing me in front of my friends.  Constantly dishing out a ridiculous amount of chores and responsibility around the house.  It’s Saturday and I have the right to sleep in as late as I want  because, well… I just do.  Not this Saturday.  This Saturday is 6:00 am carpet shampooing followed by landscaping all day.  Dad.  Son.  Butting heads.  Disdain.  Friction.  In his presence, I no longer find comfort.

I’m eighteen.  I’m free.

I’m older. Past being a kid.  Don’t feel like an adult yet.  Dad’s smart.  Pretty smart, actually.  Not knowing anything applies to me, now.  Dad knows a lot.  I have a lot of life questions again and I need help with stuff.  He doesn’t have the answer to everything but the answers he does have come from life experience.  No rhetoric.  Wisdom from experience.  It’s valuable.  Another thing, everything that used to drive me crazy, all the chores, all the lessons I didn’t care about before… well, I didn’t realize it at the time but dad was giving me skill sets.  I know how to work hard and will never starve because of it.  I can change a tire.  I can do laundry.  I can stay calm during an emergency.  And importantly, I can figure out how to figure things out.

Dad’s sick.  Diagnosed. I have grown to the size of my father and it helps me take care of him. I now have a finite timeline with my father.  We have a lot of conversations.  Life, triumph, fear, responsibility, love and family.  These memories are for me.  Our words are exchanged as equals but I’m back to looking at him wide-eyed.  My dad could never lift a tank.  He was never able to fly.  To my knowledge, no x-ray vision.  But after watching him go through what he went through and taking care of his family while fighting this God awful disease with the force he did…

I’m back to being a kid.  My dad is a super hero.

And if I may… he could probably beat up your dad.

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One Response to “A Son Shares His Thoughts…”

  1. Ed Zagorski said

    I am moved by your recollections and evaluations. I identify with so much, and yet I was not as lucky as you. I met your dad, Rich Mackney, once many, many years ago. All I remember from the time is that he was the big brother of my dear friend Liz. She always spoke so proudly of him and his accomplishments. And when I met him and spent a brief time with him, yes, I saw the qualities in him that she admired. From all that I’ve gathered lately, I see that he was just as appreciated and loved by many other people. I am sad for your loss, and I am sad I didn’t get to know him better. And, too, I am happy for you that you have such wonderful memories. Peace.

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