Never leave something unsaid that you will regret later – Lancaster Eagle Gazette

Posted: October 12, 2019 at 10:44 am


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Tom Wilson(Photo: Tom Wilson)

They say the older you get, the wiser you get, and I think there is some truth to that. For me, the one thing Ive learned through years as Ive gotten older, is to not leave things you want to say, unsaid, so here goes.

Back in June on Fathers Day, I wrote a column, but decided not to publish it because it was personal, and I thought maybe I was being a little too transparent. However, as you get older, you start to take stock of your life and really start to realize what is important.

Below is what I wrote back in June. I had to add to it because, as stated earlier, I didnt want to leave something unsaid and regret it later.

Part one: growing up without a father

A week ago, was Fathers Day, and seeing all the Happy Fathers Day well-wishes on social media made me a little sad and envious, at the same time.

It got me thinking, what does Fathers Day really mean to me? I didnt have a father figure in my life growing up. To be honest, without going into too much detail, I never knew who my real father was.

Ive always wondered if I looked like him, talked like him, have the same personality as him? I guess I will never know, and that is unfortunate because, as a son, you always want to make your father proud of you.

You want him to relish in your accomplishments in life, as well being supportive in your failures. I never had that luxury, so each year on Fathers Day when I read all the nice things sons and daughters say about their fathers, it eats at me a little.

Make no mistake, I realize Im not the only person who didnt have a father-figure growing up, but never knowing who your father is, well, that is a whole different story.

God bless my mother, she had five kids and did the best she could, but I basically was left to fend for myself.

The one constant throughout my life, and it started when I was younger, then proceeded into middle school and high school, was sports. I wasnt a great athlete, but I was good enough to play football, basketball and baseball at the high school level.

However, as a I look back, I often wonder how was I even able to do that? Thank goodness for my older brother, Tim, who introduced me to sports at a young age. Without him, I wouldnt be where I am today. He was four years older than me and by the time I reached high school, he was in the Army.

I think back to my days of playing Little League baseball and Pony League football, and I didnt even have cleats. I wore tennis shoes. I walked to practices and walked to my games. If I played in tournaments out of town, I had to rely one of teammates parents to give me a ride.

At that point in my life, I really didnt know any better. However, as I got older, I started to realize how other kids always had their parents attending games and I had no one, especially a father. I did, however, have coaches that were there to help guide me, and I will be forever grateful to them.

Playing sports kept me going in the right direction and kept me out of trouble. Once I began playing sports at the high school level is when it became real for me.

I can remember after football games, parents would be waiting for their sons to come out of the field house, and win or lose, they were there to offer encouragement.

I always tried to be one of the last ones out because I knew there would be no one waiting for me. I remember opening the field house door and hoping everyone would be gone. If I had a good game, some of my teammates parents would offer congratulations and I appreciated it, but it wasnt the same as having your own parents there, especially your father.

As I think back to that time, I tried to act like everything was fine, but deep down, it wasnt. As a high school kid, you just set it aside and move on. No one ever said anything to me or asked me about it, but Im sure they all knew.

Part two: I will always be grateful to my high school football coach, who is now my father-in-law

You try to emulate your parents and the influence they have on you and then pass it on to your children. I, unfortunately, didnt have that.

But what I did have was sports, and coaches that I looked up to. One that played a big part early in my life was my high school football coach, Dick Hill.

Me with my former high school football coach and father-in-law, Dick Hill.(Photo: Tom Wilson/Eagle-Gazette)

During my junior and senior years of high school, I lived in the Fayette County Childrens Home, not because I got in trouble or anything like. My sister and I were taken away from my mom. She was an alcoholic and that is where they put kids when their parents couldnt take care of them.

I remember it was devastating at the time, but looking back, it was probably for the best.

Back to coach Hill. I remember it like it was yesterday. Not in front of anyone, he asked me how I was going to get to practice for the start of two-a-day football? He didnt let me answer and said he would be there to pick me up at 6:30 a.m. He had to drive out of his way to pick me up.

I remember the first morning in the car ride with him to practice, I was embarrassed, but thankful, that he had given me a ride. Each morning got easier. Im not sure if he remembers any of our conversations, but I do.

Had he not picked me up, Im not sure how I would have made it to practice or if I would have even played. That one small gesture changed by a high school football coach changed my life forever and I will always be grateful to him.

Fast forward 22 years, he became my father-in-law. I have been married to his daughter, Julie for 16 years. Understand, the last time I had seen coach Hill was my senior year of high school in 1981. Julie and I were married in 2003.

Coach Hill never stopped coaching, and during that time, he has had a lot of success as a head coach and as an assistant. He was all set to begin his 51st year of coaching high school football as an assistant at Dayton Christian when he received devastating news that he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

My first thought was my wife and what she must be feeling. It was different for me. He was my father-in-law, but he was my coach first - the one that changed everything for me. Im not sure how long he has to live, but I do know that impacted a lot of his former players lives, especially mine.

I will miss talking football with him, I will miss golfing with him and I will miss him interacting with his only grandchild, our daughter, Natalie.

The one thing I didnt want to miss, was telling him how much he has meant to me before its too late.

Life is short, so make sure to never leave something unsaid that you will regret later.

twilson@lancastereaglegazette.com

740-681-4358

Twitter: @twil2323

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Never leave something unsaid that you will regret later - Lancaster Eagle Gazette

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October 12th, 2019 at 10:44 am

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