I was a needy child. When Dad worked the third shift, I dialed his worked number often, telling the man who picked up the phone to get my father on the line. Dad would come to the phone after a few minutes. And I would tell him about my day and asked him when he was coming home. He never once told me to not call him.
My Mom says I was a hard kid to raise. I was picky about my food. I wouldn’t go to the bathroom unless Dad was home. Dad said I was needy too. I heard that after I was born, he wouldn’t let the doctors take me away.
Dad and I are two different people. He is the type of person you invite to have a beer with. I’m the friend you get coffee with. Dad says what is on his mind. I think about my sentences before I say them. Dad lives in the spotlight; I avoid it.
Besides the love for the Dallas Cowboys, Dad and I share a fondness for the road. He noted how when I was little, I would always sit in the passenger seat during our road trip vacations. I can’t sleep in cars or airplanes. I was the perfect wing boy — helping keep the pilot’s mind busy.
But in Dallas I was driving. Dad thought it was funny; he told me that one day soon my kid would be driving me around.
Dad doesn’t talk about the war much. When I was a kid, I used to ask about his bullet wounds a lot. He didn’t say much. As I got older, I stopped asking him about his war days. But sometimes he’ll bring up the memories here and there.
As we headed towards lunch, the topic of conversation turned from Terrence Williams’ catch and clock error — which cost the Cowboys a season opener win against the Giants — to his war days. He talked about how he played football with American soldiers. The teams were separated by white and black shirts.
His teammates would tell him to run to a point on the field, turn around and catch the ball and run. Dad scored over and over until the soldiers grew angry. The six-foot men couldn’t touch the young 20-year-old star who just learned how to play American Football.
As I played the memory back in my head, I imagined Dad as wide receiver Cole Beasley. Both men were the small guys on the field who had the escape skills to evade larger bodies.
I learned that it was the American soldiers who introduced football to Dad. Without them, Dad wouldn’t have been able to teach me football.
Next: Taking Dad to his first Cowboys game concluded