Fatherhood

Category Archives: Fatherhood

I’d much rather have known my father

George Mallory is the famous mountain climber who died attempting to reach the peak of Mount Everest, and may well have been the first person to reach the peak. But the pursuit of his dream took a toll on his family. In the introduction to the book Last Climb, George’s son John, who is was just three years old when his father perished, speaks of both his pride at what his father achieved and sadness. He wrote “I would so much rather have known my father than to have grown up in the shadow of a legend, a hero, as some people perceive him to be.”

His Father’s Son

Let me tell you two stories about two men who came from Chicago, USA.

Story Number One:
Chicago’s O’Hare International airport is named after one of Chicago’s most famous and heroic sons. Butch O’Hare was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington during the Second World War. About ten weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbour Butch O’Hare was flying his single engine Grumman Hellcat fighter plane off the Gilbert islands.  He and another pilot were the only ones aloft when O’Hare spotted a group of nine Japanese bombers heading straight for his aircraft carrier, the Lexington. O’Hare knew the odds were against him – the other fighter planes on the carrier were refuelling and would not have time to take off. It was up to Butch and the other Hellcat to stop the Japanese bombers. The odds were dramatically reduced when Butch discovered the machine guns on the second Hellcat had seized. It was just Butch O’Hare and four minutes between the Japanese bombers and the 2000 crew aboard the Lexington.

Butch dove in and started the attack. The crew of the Lexington watched as he engaged the Japanese bombers – their guns training in on his Hellcat fighter. With astonishing skill Butch O’Hare emerged victorious, shooting down five of the nine Japanese bombers and badly damaging another. The last three were taken out by planes that managed to get off the decks of the Lexington while the air battle raged above them.

President Roosevelt later described Butch O’Hare’s actions as “one of the most daring, if not the most daring, single action in the history of combat aviation.” Butch was promoted two ranks and designated the US Navy’s first “Ace” of World War 2.

Story number two:

Some years before World War 2 a millionaire lawyer known as “Easy Eddie” was involved in illegal gambling rackets with the notorious Chicago gangster Al Capone. Eddie had the patent rights to the mechanical rabbits used in dog racing and he and was brought into the Hawthorne Kennel Club by Capone as a major partner. The races were usually always fixed and although dog racing was illegal Capone and Eddie kept the matter tied up in the courts. This allowed them to continue to run their tracks. When dog racing was finally declared illegal Eddie and Capone simply switched their tracks over to horseracing, which was legal, and continued to fix races and rake in money.

In addition to his race track interests Eddie performed a variety of legal services for the Capone Mob. He looked after mob members arrested for murder, gambling and prostitution and set up elaborate real estate and stock transactions for Capone, himself and other insiders of the gang.

There was however another side to Eddie. Eddie was a father. He had a son and daughters whom he loved dearly, and the wealth he had amassed allowed him to shower everything money could buy upon his beloved children. And in many ways he was a good father. Eddie sought out the best schools for his children and spent lots of time with them attending their school productions and sporting events, and just hanging around together.

But there was one thing Eddie’s money couldn’t buy – integrity and respectability. Eddie’s son finished high school and declared he wanted to go into the naval academy at Annapolis. But to get there you needed more than money. You needed the approval of the congressman for your state.

Eddie decided his son’s future was more important than his own. He approached the authorities and indicated he would be willing to testify against Capone. On the basis of Eddie’s witness Al Capone went to jail for 11 years and his stranglehold on Chicago was broken. Eddie’s son also got into the Annapolis Naval Academy. But for Eddie the price was severe. Capone swore he would kill Eddie and in 1937 Eddie was gunned to death as he drove his car home from work. In his pocket the police found a poem which read:

The clock of life is wound but once
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop
At late or early hour.
Now is the only time you own.
Live, love, toil with a will.
Place no faith in time.
For the clock may soon be still.

I know what you’re thinking. What do these two stories have to do with one another? Well, you see, Butch O’Hare was Easy Eddie’s son.

 

Source: Adapted from Illinois Police and Sheriff’s News archives 1939-1949

Derek Redmond Finishes at the Olympics

It was the summer Olympics of 1992. It was the quarter finals of the 400 metre sprint. British athlete Derek Redmond was one of the favourites for the gold medal. A lifetime of training had brought him to this moment. The starters gun fired and the athletes burst out of the blocks.

Halfway through the race Derek Redmond was leading. Then disaster struck. His hamstring went and he collapsed on the track. The agony on his tear streaked face was both physical and mental. It was a crushing blow.

Medical attendants ran to assist him. Derek waved them away. He came to race and he was going to finish. He got to his feet and started hobbling down the track.

The crowd was mesmerised. Officials didn’t know what to do. And then an older man ran onto the track. He brushed off officials who tried to stop him. He ran up beside Derek and placed his arms around him.

The man was Derek Redmond’s father, Jim.

“You don’t have to do this son” Jim said.

“Yes I do” Derek replied.

“Then we’ll finish this race together” came the response from Derek’s father.

Arm in arm, with agony on Derek’s face, tears on his father’s, Derek and Jim continued down the track. Derek buried his face in his father’s shoulder. His father’s strong shoulders carried his son physically and emotionally. Jim waved away officials who tried to stop them.

Finally, accompanied by a now roaring crowd, standing on their feet and applauding, Derek Redmond crossed the line. It became the defining moment of the Barcelona Olympics.

Derek Redmond Finishes the Race. A Video about Determination and Love

Derek Redmond was favoured to medal in the 400m sprint at the 1092 Olympics. When he tore a hamstring halfway through the race his dream died. But his determination to finish the race, with his father by his side, became the defining moment of the Games. A beautiful story of persevering to finish the race and of a father’s heart.

Olympian Derek Redmond from rob kohn on Vimeo.

Dick & Rick Hoyt – A Video of a Father Competing in Endurance Events with his Disabled Son

Dick Hoyt has a severely disabled son, Rick. After discovering his son’s love for athletic events Dick undertook to do them with him. Together they compete in triathalons, with Dick pushing his son in a wheelchair for the run, towing him in the swim and cycling tandem in the ride.