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Dad was a Righteous Man

My father, John C. Peters, Attorney at Law, died on February 24th, 2009.  He was a good man, he also loved to party.  He was often described as the life of the party by family and friends.

He helped quite a few over the course of his life.

He didn’t like Me much.  He rarely helped me.  I can remember when he said “No.” to my request for $500.00 to replace the tools that were stolen because I had a job as a motorcycle mechanic that I was starting the next Monday.  I lost the position because I didn’t have any tools.

Of course, he was trying to counteract the lifestyle of the spoiled rich kid.  I may not agree with how he did it, but he was a self-made man, he expected me to be the same way, I suppose.

He was a righteous man and he could recognize that quality in others.  It made him a born leader.

And he didn’t see that in me.  I had disappointed him too much as a child.  I liked to joke around and he always took me seriously.  So I didn’t live up to his great expectations.

When we moved to West Hartford, Connecticut, for my last year and half of high school, I was all excited to be moving to a new place and making new friends, checking out new girls, racing my motorcycle on new tracks.

But the motorcycle racing attracted the wrong crowd.  Spoiled boys, gearheads and hoodlums.  That was quite different from Omaha, when we lived next door to Warren Buffet and his family.  The guys that kept hanging around me in West Hartford lacked any direction or a sense of responsibility.  And I could not discourage them to leave me alone.  I guess if they had one good quality, it was that they sure were persistent.

I actually liked a couple of them, but some were just up to no good.

One guy I was just starting to like, Kieth, who rode his motorcycle everywhere, was killed right after we decided to be friends and look  out for each other.  10 days afterwards I heard he was killed a couple of days after we talked.

I heard it like he hit the back of his head or neck on a trailer hitch.  The guy I dislike the most shook him to revive him.  Later he found a piece of his bone and made a roach clip out of it.  Sick.

I never told Dad.

I hate death.

Dad died before we straightened out some things.  But he had a new wife, a new family, new responsibilities, and he loved the West Hartford area.  He protected his family.  And his new family treated him well.  He deserved that.

He always hoped that I would do something with my art.  I guess that’s the one thing he could be proud of me for.

And I am told he loved me.

But he never met his 8 year-old blackbelt grandson (my son, Maximilian).

He kept me out of college, though I wanted to go. Heck, I wanted to go to the Rhode Island School of Design.  But I had setup motorcycle school first.  What did I know?  Motorcycles were my life back then.  So he made me chose between the American Motorcycle Institute (motorcycle mechanics classes) and the Rhode Island School of Design.  The thing is that he made me chose once the motorcycle school was already setup and expecting me.

He wouldn’t allow me to get into a college after that.  I tried to enroll in a couple of colleges, but I had to wait until I was 24 years old to get in because he refused to sign a document declaring that I was independent, even though he kicked me out of the house at 18 years old.  I never did get that.  I finally started college shortly after I turned 25.

Some of the crumb bums (trying to be civil, here, I call these particular scum by worse privately) that called themselves my friends in my West Hartford days actually stole my racing engine.  My father did work hard at getting it back.  I still have it, a Bultaco Pursang A.  But by the time I got it back the season, maybe 2? was over.

There went my racing career.

I suppose I should have appreciated his efforts more.  I really did appreciate it, but I don’t think he felt like I did.

But I was not actually a great kid.  When the rest of the family went to the Dominican Republic, I stayed behind and threw a party.  A few close friends?  That’s not what showed-up.

One time I was sweet on the Seventeen Magazine cover model and started talking to her, getting very into her.  My hoodlum “friends” surrounded us.  I made a deal with them, they would leave her alone.  She would leave and they would follow me.

I told Dad these guys were no good, that I didn’t want to be their friend, but I doubt if he believed me.  Besides, they had fellow lawyers as fathers.

Too many things were left unresolved with Dad’s death.  This was a shame, but I guess we don’t always get the closure we expect.

We had a memorial at the Malloy Funeral Home in West Hartford on Saturday, March 21st.  Most of the family reconnected.  It’s unfortunate it took that for the reconnect to happen, but it is good that something good came of his passing.  There were many family & friends, new & old, in attendance thinking and saying great things in the celebration of his life.

I took some great photos at the reception.  I plan on sending them by DVD to his family & friends as soon as I can.

It was great to see everyone.  I was able to reconnect with my brother and his family, and with my sister.  It was so good to see them, as well as see my father’s new family and speak with them.

Once again, he did a great thing, by getting us all back together.

I wish I could have spent more time talking to everyone, exchanging business cards and catching up.  But there is so little time and my brother’s family was hosting my cousins from out-of-town.  And Ed & Mary Beth are expecting their first born, so I was happy to follow along with whatever was required as like my wife’s pregnancy, I understand theirs is also a tough one.

My father was loved and will always be missed by many.  I am very sorry to see him go.  Of course, I wish he wouldn’t have passed so soon.  But the memorial was a great celebration of his life.  And he did enjoy a long and full life.

He often reminded me that I was the eldest of a generation.  I really never knew what that meant.  I guess I was supposed to be a good role model and I failed him there.

But I hoped that he will understand me in the long run.  In a way I think he did.  He didn’t like to keep in contact with me.  He said “No news is good news.”

I always loved the man, I always will love him.  I guess I just wish we could have understood each other more.

One of his favorite songs reminded him of our relationship, as he explained it to me.  I think it’s called “Cats in the Cradle” by Cat Stevens (I’ll correct the song title in that sentence later if I find it named something else).

-His eldest son… Douglas Peters

April 11, 2009 Posted by | Parenting, Social Communities, The Human Condition | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment