My father was a major reason I fell in love with words. Each night, he read two newspapers. From the time I was first able to read, he pointed out interesting articles. He wrote short stories, allegorical fables, and letters to the editor which he never mailed. He kept them all in a drawer. He wrote some really terrible poetry, and some pretty darn good poems, and sent them to everyone he loved. He loved books, and he knew the difference between writers and authors. He was philosophical and corny, naturally intelligent but formally uneducated. And, he innately knew, when it came to a piece of writing, that shorter was better than long.
He died three years ago today.
My father detested cold weather and moved to Las Vegas as soon as I graduated from college. But four years or so before that, he accompanied me on a tour of Syracuse University, on a winter day when the temperature barely reached 15 degrees. When we exited the journalism school complex, a blast of frigid wind slammed into us, and he handed me $20 for cab fare and went back to the hotel (where I'm sure he read all the local newspapers.) A few months later, he wrote the first of many tuition checks.
Three years ago tonight, on an airplane heading west through darkness to a too-bright Las Vegas morning, I wrote a eulogy. It took me two hours. It was too long. And, it's never finished.