“He isn’t much in the eyes of the world—
He’ll never make history.
No, he isn’t much in the eyes of the world
But he is the world to me

My dad, now there is a man…”

                                        Paul Petersen

They laid him to rest twenty-four years ago today. On the main drag of a cemetery in his favorite city, Columbus. The funeral was attended by family, friends, and some of the best gin rummy players in central Ohio.

He was my father. And although I don’t think of him each and every day, he remains, year in and year out, my moral compass.

There was a wisdom to his observations that was a bi-product of his bumps, bruises and lessons learned. He was a black and white kind of guy—no gray. You always knew where he was coming from.

OSU, Dean Martin, Vegas-up. Michigan, Johnny Mathis, New York-down. He rarely argued with you if you thought otherwise—“not worth the effort”— (but silently he knew you just had it wrong).

Days before his death he bumped into my friend at a play. It was intermission and he greeted Ermine with “I fart better than they sing!” Yep, you always knew where he stood. The man rarely swore, but somehow when he did it just wasn’t profane.

There was a purity…a common sense… a warmth.

Sure, he taught me the stuff of all dads: He’d point to Indian catcher John Romano, reminding me to “Take a level swing…the hits will fall.” Or remind me to “Keep your eye on the ball.” (Little did I know then that he wasn’t just talking baseball).

Or maybe it was the gentle suggestion that “Would you consider doing your homework first and THEN calling your friends?” (Another life lesson?)

When I was young he’d take me to the library at Cedar Center and wait patiently as I browsed the shelves. “You mean to tell me that you can’t find one book you like in this whole library?” I can still hear his incredulity. Then, typically, we’d cross the street to Mayflower Drug and pick up a “Baseball Digest.”

My Dad only spoiled me with love. He would correct my grammar, admonish my nail biting, and monitor my behavior. But he would never judge.

And it was unconditional. Totally.

I can only remember lying to him once. That was enough. It was in the sixth grade, and he had forbid me playing tackle football. My bones were still developing, or so his lodge brother friend had advised. I’d been playing with the guys behind his back; (we’d practice lunch times at Randy’s home on Hinsdale). Everything was geared for a game to be played at Bexley Park on a certain Sunday afternoon.

My friends all knew of the prohibition, but the inexplicable happened. Came game day and a teammate clad in full shoulder pads knocked on our side door. Unexpected. Out of nowhere. Joel was among the book-smartest of the group; to this day I still don’t get it. My father answered the Wrenford door, directed Cohn to move on, and confronted his first born.

Crying, I promised to never lie to him again. “Some day we’ll laugh at all this,” he said mid-hug. Once our tears had dried, together we went to watch the game at Bexley.

He was a man of passion that practiced compassion. He used to tell me that mistakes were fine so long as I made new ones. Watching me repeat the same error would frustrate him. He viewed my new miscues as a sign of growth.

How great is that! He let me stumble with dignity yet was always there to help me up.

Even today when I do something stupid, or something I’m not proud of…I just know that if he’s looking down (and he is), that he’s somehow smiling and thinking “That’s my boy.”

And he remains proud of me, even as I stumble. Unconditional love. Al Bogart’s been gone two dozen years and that remains his legacy. From my first Schwinn to my first Mustang, from my first step to his last….unconditional love.

August 11, 1985 they buried the messenger—but not the message.

“When I was small I felt ten feet tall
When I walked by his side
And everyone would say “That’s his son”
And my heart would burst with pride

My dad, oh I love him so
And I only hope that some day
My own son will say

“My dad now there is a man”

6 Responses to “MY DAD”

  1. Jackie says:

    Not good to shed tears so early in the a.m.

  2. Susan says:

    Your dad sounds like a fantastic man. I miss my dad, too. I bet they would have liked each other. Wouldn’t it be funny if they had known each other? I use to think my father and mother knew the entire world and their friends were always watching out for me, too.

  3. sb says:

    it is hard to believe 24 years have passed.
    your father was a great guy and a wonderful father-in-law.


  4. Stuart says:

    a few things that I remember: the “grunt” getting out of the car; the puffed lip; the Supremes; the shirts for 10 Highight units; the pancake breakfast; the u-haul; crossing a busy nyc street to buy bread because the Chinese Restaurant didn’t have it;

    But, mostly I remember a kind, generous man who had a significant impact on my life and any success I’ve had.

  5. Stacy says:

    Isn’t that funny…you are MY moral compass. I love you.

  6. Mark Ermine says:

    I have said to you many times “bruce, how do you remember all these things”. Let me say, this one I remember like it was yesterday. At the intermission of a play at The Palace, Margaret (my first wife) and I walked aout, the play was so bad. right behind us was your Dad, right after he noticed me and said Hi, His extact words were: “Mark, I’ve heard dogs FART better than these people can sing!” He was a wonderful man and I will remember him well. Sorry, I have not talked to you in a while, just had rotator cuff surgery last Monday and am now just starting to recouperate.

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