Saturday, June 14, 2008

Fathers Day - Dedicated to Tim Russert

Tim Russert at Boston College's 128th Commencement Exercises on May 24, 2004

I'm dedicating this year's Fathers Day post to Tim Russert.

As a Catholic with a lot of Irish in me and a solid base of Catholic upbringing and Jesuit education, I connected with Tim's public persona. I didn't know him. I wish I'd had an opportunity to know him. I recall passing him in the hallway at the 2006
Clinton Global Initative meeting in Manhattan while
he was on his way into a room to interview President Clinton and thinking to myself, "Wow...that's Tim Russert." He was obviously in a hurry to get to his destination, so I never did get to talk with him. If I'd only known he'd be taken from us so soon, I'd have sat and waited, hours if necessary, until he came out and I could tell him just how much he'd meant to me, a political blogger, in his work as a political journalist. I admired his spirit, however, both in a personal and a public sense.

What I did know of Tim in a personal sense was taken, in good part, from what he gave all of us in his wonderful book about his father, of whom he lovingly referred to as "Big Russ."

I especially enjoyed Tim talking about his faith and how his father helped to shape the faith that would last his whole life through.

In his book "Big Russ & Me" which, incidentally, has remained on my Dad's bedside table ever since I gave it to him for Father's Day a couple years ago, Tim talked about the faith of his father in times of in the seen and unseen:

"From time to time my parents would bring me with them to a wake, where the custom was to have an open casket. When my paternal grandparents died, I watched as Dad reached into the coffin and tearfully squeezed their hands in a final gesture of farewell. At the funeral the coffin would be sealed, and that required a different kind of faith as we sent the deceased on his or her way to their eternal rest."

Tim's childlike brilliance and humor would show through his writing in the same Chapter he'd written on Faith. Speaking about his time spent as an altar boy, he humorously recalled:

"There was a brotherhood among the altar boys, and we used to share stories of which priest liked the bigger serving of wine. There was also mischief, or at least talk of mischief. If you had a friend who was receiving the host, you might take the patten, the little golden plate, and accidentally hit him in the throat. Most of the joking centered on the wine, and some of the boys were known to have raided the priest's supply closet - but I'll never tell."

I trusted Tim Russert because of the common faith we shared. Week to week, Sunday after Sunday, he seemed to have never lost the magical spark of childhood while some others in his professional field and many out here in our respective private lives had obviously lost the manual on getting past all the little daggers and pitfalls that life often mercilessly throws in front of us.

When Tim's favorite rock singer Bruce Springsteen sang the words:

"Show a little faith....there's magic in the night.."

.....I happen to think that Tim and I took a similar message away from that well-known and well-loved line. Faith is a light that guides us through darkness. About this life we share, Christian writer Frederick Buechner has recommended: "Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. Touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are sacred moments and life itself is grace."

Tim was a touch of grace for me and for many others who only were able to know him from what they learned about him each and every Sunday morning.

God knows I'll miss him.

Tim, this one's for you.


To my own Dad:


Here's me with the most honest and decent man I have ever known
(and a loyal and die-hard Yankee fan to boot):

Happy Father's Day, Dad.


.......serenaded by you.

Me and Dad
Niagara Falls, N.Y.

"Certain is it that there is no kind of affection so purely angelic as of a father to a daughter. In love to our wives there is desire; to our sons, ambition; but to our daughters there is something which there are no words to express."

- Joseph Addison


Christmas 1965
Me with brother Peter and Dad

Wishing a Happy Fathers Day to every loving father, and a very special Fathers Day to my own Dad..


jdk_007 said...

Here's a nice article on the history of Father's Day. All the best to fellow dads around the world.