killed man or beast out of fear or hatred or for survival. However,it was the whales he loved most
seemed most in awe.That’s what I was thinking aboutas I drove Seamus up the hill. Itried to remember the last timeI had talked to my dad aboutanything of real importance.And I couldn’t remember.“Dad, I forgot my ball down onthe beach,” Seamus mumbled,as we pulled into the driveway.“I’m really sorry.”I fought off the impulse to snap.“It’s okay. We’ll go looking for iton the way out of town,” I said.“Hopefully, the neighborhoodkids didn’t take it. That was areally nice leather ball.”
packed, it was time to head toLAX. He wasn’t looking forwardto going home, back to schooland the cold, but at least hecould focus on and look forwardto the NCAA tournament. Justbefore leaving, Seamus and Isat down at the computer onelast time and logged into myYahoo account. I had agreed tolet him enter one set of bracketsinto a pool run by an investmentbanking buddy. The entry feewas $100, with the winner taking home a few thousandbucks. I had agreed to front himthe money on the condition thathalf of any winnings would go tocharity. Seamus pulled up thepool. The sweet sixteen wouldstart today and his entry was
“That’s it, dad. That’s thewinning bracket right there!Boston College is going to goall the way this year!”“I sure hope so,” I said, lookingat my watch. “We gotta get
we’re both in big trouble. And
on the beach.”We had both becomeaccustomed to goodbyes. Asfather and son, we had long agoreached a male understandingthat a certain amount of emotionwas a good thing. Too muchwas bad—very bad, in fact. Theease of being together couldeasily turn ugly if the pain of our situation was spoken out loud.We didn’t live together andnever would. This was as goodas it was going to get. We bothknew this, but never wanted tosay it out loud—as if the silencewould somehow diminish thehurt.“There it is!” Seamus shoutedwhen we pulled into the lot onthe beach. “Those guys areplaying with my ball.” A full-courtgame was in progress, shirtsand skins, with high school aged
catching his breath while a foulcall was hotly disputed. Rubber basketballs had been strewn athalf court in favor of the leather Spalding ball.“Stay here,” I told Seamus,wanting to make sure that theextraction was quick and easy.“Guys,” I said, as I approachedthe court, my 6’3” frame puffedout just slightly to make sure mywords were not ignored. “Theball is mine. Sorry.”The reaction was immediate—
“Thanks,” I muttered, beforegetting back into the car andhanding Seamus the lost ball.As we drove to the airport,I spoke brightly about thetournament and about Seamus’ssixth-grade team, attempting in
off the impending storm cloud.
before he had even left.I checked Seamus in at FirstClass. By now, I knew thequestions on the unaccompaniedminor form by heart. I carefullyplaced Seamus’s ticket into aclear plastic pouch held in placeby a string around his neck.
“How come I always feel like a jackass with this thing on, dad? How am I supposed to pick up chicks on the plane?”
Seamus asked with a wry smile.“If the loser badge keeps thegirls away for a few more years,
with a smile.At the gate, I looked into myson’s eyes. We had waited untileveryone else got on the planebefore Seamus boarded. Butthe time had come.“I love you Seamus,” I said,giving him a bear hug. I felt how