View Full Version : One for my Dad

02-03-2009, 04:30 PM

"When you're in other organizations, you recognize that it's different and you respect it,'' Tomlin said of the singular bond between the organization and Steeler Nation. "Until you are part of it, you have no idea of the depths.

It's generational, passed down from father to son.

I know the more I get to understand it, the more Steeler Nation drives me. I want to win for them because they are that special.''

~ Mike Tomlin ~

When I was growing-up, my dad worked lotsa hours, and while we never went-hungry or cold, and he never drank, it was a tough childhood, mentally & physically:
one of the few things we actively shared together was our love of football, any football, but especially Stiller football.

We listened to the first-ever play-off game on 23 December 1972 on our old console stereo (home games weren't shown on TV in those days), spent a few days each summer watching first Bill Austin, then Chuck Noll put the players through their paces at St. Vincent's College, sat in the freezing rain during the 1978 AFC Championship games against the Oilers, and he even let us miss the day of school after the 1974 AFC Championship game, because we drove from Westmoreland County to Greater Pitt late that night, to greet the victorious Stillers coming-off their airplane (with 15,000 other fools at 2:00 AM):
watching or discussing the Stillers with him was one of the few times I didn't live in-fear of being slapped.

The years passed after I got outta school, and even though I later worked for him over 13 years, we weren't as-close as he thought we were (nor as-close as we should've been):
I stayed out-of arms-length whenever I could.

Many years ago, my now ex-wife left me, and when he blamed this on me, we dirifted even further-apart:
in-fact we hadn't spoken for over 6 years.

In failing health since the '70s, his situation got-worse on Christmas Day 2008, and when my Mom asked if I'd come to visit and 'say-goodbye' (I moved to central Florida over 2 years ago), I drove 19 hours straight-through, because we knew he didn't have-long:
we enjoyed watching the Charger game on TV 11 Janaury, then I returned to Florida.

When I called him to 'discuss-and-scout' the Ratbirds before the Championship game, his speech was slurred, and when he tried to change the channel on the TV with the phone, my Mom explained his condition had deteriorated, but that he wanted to watch the game Sunday evening.

My Mom and I spoke every-other day, as he had good and bad days, and he wasn't able to speak with me over the phone (Mom said he got too-excited talking to me), yet after having several bad days last week, he felt better on Friday & Saturday before SB XLIII, watching the TV and ingesting all he could about the Cardinals, so he could better enjoy the game:
he was in good-health for the game, and even kept the portable phone near his chair, in-case I called during the game, but I didn't want to risk causing him stress.

My Mom said he watched the entire game, most of the post-game celebration on TV into the late-night, and post-game discussion on ESPN the day-after the game, but when the coverage of the game faded into college basketball and other sports, he drifted-off into sleep, struggling to breathe:
he passed-away early this morning, as my Mom took-down the Stiller decorations that adorn the family Christmas Tree, which is left-standing until the Stillers are eliminated each season, a tradition that we started in 1972, but at-least he'd seen 'his' Stillers win another Super Bowl.

I'm guessing he woulda loved Tomlin's desire & word-ethics, Ward's smiling-yet-physical play, and Polamalu's intelligent-recklessness, as he did Noll's quiet-confidence, Bleier's tenacious blocking, Lambert's ferocious leadership:
he was a hard-man, and an even-harder Father..... but he luv'd 'em Stillers!

It's generational, passed down from father to son.

tony hipchest
02-04-2009, 09:01 AM
wow. i dont even know what to say other than i can only imagine what a mix of emotions the past few days have been for you.

02-04-2009, 10:44 AM
Truly an amazing story. I'm glad your father got to see one more Super Bowl.

02-04-2009, 10:53 AM
.... touching. I will say a prayer for you and your family

02-04-2009, 11:15 AM
Emotional story, and I hope to pass down my love of the Steelers to my children one day. Stories like these warm the heart and shows what Steelers football means to so many.

02-04-2009, 12:12 PM
Thank you, for that incredible heart warming story.

I'm sorry for the loss of your dad.

God Bless

02-04-2009, 04:46 PM
truly amazing

02-04-2009, 04:55 PM

Sorry for the loss of your father. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts in prayers.

God must have needed some reinforcement for Steeler Nation up in heaven!

02-04-2009, 05:35 PM
That must have been hard for you to write, but maybe a little cathartic. I'm sorry for the loss of your father, but it's good that you made your peace with one another before his passing. At least you have small comfort in knowing that he was happy at the end of his life because he got to see the Steelers bring home the Lombardi. God bless you and your family :grouphug:

...and here's hoping your Mom doesn't have to take down the Christmas decorations next year until February :helmet:

02-23-2009, 11:14 AM
I'd like to thanks this Forum's members for their kind words, and share a few pictures of my trip North for the funeral.

The first thing you see when entering Greater Pittsburgh Airport


Other cities' airports may honor the Wright Brothers, Lindberg, Doolittle or Armstrong, but in Pittsburgh you are greeted by Franco Harris


(almost makes you wish that Pinkie Madden had to fly-in for the games, eh? )

When the immediate family had their final viewing, I gave this to my uncle, so he could place it on his brother's head for eternity


this-way, if he goes to Chuck Noll Field to watch Ray Mansfield & Ernie Holmes square-off in drills, at-least his scalp won't get sun-burned.

02-23-2009, 03:46 PM
I so enjoyed reading your story when you first posted it, but didn't bother to post and tell you. So I'll tell you now, and thank you for sharing your pictures too. It's nice to see the Steelers love at the airport (I remember my surprise seeing Franco for the first time - I knew about the T-Rex, but didn't know Franco was there too) and the gift of the hat I thought was touching and thoughtful. Thanks again for sharing.

02-23-2009, 04:25 PM
I'm praying for you and your family. Life is so precious and a gift. I'm glad you were able so share the moments you did with him.

It's hard to watch your parent suffer. My father has cancer and...although I realize the Steelers are just entertainment...what we experienced a few weeks ago can lift spirits, bring joy, and offer a diversion.

Galax Steeler
02-23-2009, 05:59 PM
Just now go to read this post. It was great that he got to see the steelers win one more.This is a truley amazing story.

02-05-2011, 11:03 PM
my dad was buried, wearing his Steeler cap 2 years ago today, 6 February 2009, and while he'd be p!ssed at all of the off-field turmoil & distractions of the least off-season, he'd be thrilled to see his Steelers with a chance this evening to earn another Lombardi Trophy



02-05-2011, 11:13 PM
Sorry for your loss. But, I'm sure your Dad is looking down from above watching from the best seat in the house to see his beloved Steelers win another champion ship. :helmet:

02-06-2011, 12:10 AM
I know how you feel. My dad lived for sundays so he could watch the black and gold. Something he passed on to me. I remember a conversation we had. He had said that he hopes that he can see the stillers get six rings so he could tell his cowboy fan buddies to shove it. He died in june of 08. He didn't get to see them win, but I let his buddies know every time I see them. I don't mean to take away from you or your dad, just thought Id share an experience I had with mine.

02-06-2011, 01:49 AM
Steeler Nation = Family

Dad's favorite Steeler sweater will be placed in a prime viewing area He passed before the '05 season. It has been in prime viewing area for every important Steeler game since. Mom wanted me to have his old, work-dingied, caulk-spotted Steeler sweater. On Sunday's (really, every day), it represents him.

When I moved to Jersey, Mom gave me her Terrible Towel. She passed this past May. Her Terrible Towel will be there with Dads sweater tomorrow, but will be much more active, 'cause it will be in my hand. I miss Mom most on Sundays. I would call her before and during games.

I salute you all. My friends, my family. My Steeler Nation.

02-06-2011, 10:38 AM
my dad was buried, wearing his Steeler cap 2 years ago today, 6 February 2009, and while he'd be p!ssed at all of the off-field turmoil & distractions of the least off-season, he'd be thrilled to see his Steelers with a chance this evening to earn another Lombardi Trophy



My first Steelers memory:
I remember vividly back in the 70's when I was living in Puerto Rico and we had no cable, no phone so definitely no long distance! My father somehow hooked up with someone from Pittsburgh over a CB and listened to the game over his CB. I remember being really quiet and almost scared to make a sound solely based on the intensity with which my father stared at that CB. I was afraid to breath, I had never seen my father like that - until we moved to Pittsburgh.

Though I always felt a sort of pride when I saw Steelers gear outside of Pittsburgh, I never understood the fever Steelers fans had. I was never a sports fan but my brother and father were hard core, towel throwing, window breaking, screaming at the top of your lungs, foul mouthed cursing, joyously jumping fans. And I was the rolling your eyes innocent bystander/spectator... then came 2005...

I no longer was intimidated by not understanding the game, I asked questions, payed attention, began admiring the details... Santonio Holmes... Troy... that hair... Jerome... A -rookie- quarterback?!? Suddenly I got why my father and brother were jumping up and down and when we won that Super Bowl, I saw my father cry. I instantly understood. There is a picture of my husband and I holding our newborn niece decked out in her Steelers jammies, us in our jerseys. That was the year I became I fan.

I couldn't sleep last night out of excitement, I've always experienced that lack of sleep in big moments of my life... joining the Army, going overseas, getting married, getting induced and today feels blessed to me. It's fate - 2009 the Super Bowl coincided with my surprise baby shower for my 1st daughter, this year it coincides with my wedding anniversary. Add your Dad's trip up to that 3 Rivers Stadium in the sky (God needed a stadium after all) and I wholeheartedly agree -

Today we make history - Stairway to SEVEN! :tt:

02-06-2011, 12:53 PM
Very touching story...God bless you and your family. I'm sure he'll be watching tonight when our boys take the field to bring home #7.

02-10-2012, 01:37 PM
I know it's a bit belated, but i'm giving this a Birthday Bump. Truly an amazing story, 4x.