This began as a reply to the Board Post below, but screw it, Dad deserves better.
I didn't stand a chance of being anything other than a Michigan fan. Dad, Mom, Grandparents, countless aunts and uncles, Sister, Brother, several cousins... most are alums and diehard Wolverines. Growing up was centered around family every Fall Saturday, with huge parties for the OSU, MSU, and Rose Bowl games. Wins on any given Saturday were followed immediately by a dash to the phone to call Grandma and scream "Yay! Yay! Yay!"
My Dad did host most of those parties, always setting up a great time by all even if Michigan lost (read: most Rose Bowls). I can remember joyous yells of "Touchdown Michigan!" filling the house after yet another brilliant play by Bo's Wolverines. I recall the elation of watching Jamie Morris scamper for a TD, and the horror of watching Tony Boles have his career cut short. Watching a game on TV still always takes me back to that little TV room in Saginaw.
He also took each of us kids to Ann Arbor for a day on our 7th birthdays. My day started with the long car ride, early in the morning before the sun came up. We got to Ann Arbor just after first light and then began with a walk up to and around Central Campus. I especially remember the feeling of running up and down the stone walls that lined some side streets. Then it was off to the Big House, a frigid scamper on the Astroturf field (gotta love Ann Arbor in December), and a climb to the top of the bowl. Finally there was a trip to Blimpie Burger, and then into the car for the ride back north. That trip made me realize that Ann Arbor was sacred ground, without Dad ever having to say it outright.
When Saturday Afternoons were compromised by duck hunting, the radio was always right there in the blind. Dad took his hunting very seriously and he would stay very still and quiet with me charge of listening to the headphones and giving updates. I always hated getting up early, in horrendous weather, to hunt the ducks, but I have some of my most enduring memories of my father from those times in the marshes of Shiawassee, Crow Island, and Saginaw Bay.
Notre Dame games are a blur of memories, almost all taken in at a bar in Lovells. The
town village crossroads is right next to the land where we would one day have a cabin. We seemed to always be there on the weekend of the Notre Dame game and the bar/restaurant would be packed nearly standing room only, with all eyes glued to the tiny TV in the corner of the room. When Michigan scored, things would get rowdy in there. I think Dad even dislocated Grandma's thumb with a high-five once.
Of course introducing me to Michigan Fandom was really the least of what my Dad has done and continues to do for me. He is the most upright role model I know to this day. He instilled a sense of morals and dignity in all of his children, and protected and enriched us in countless ways. He gives of himself always to the benefit of all that know him, and many who do not. If I can end up half the man my Dad is, I will consider myself a success and net benefit to the world.
Thanks Dad, for everything.