My father, Richard “Dick” Fry, passed away last Thursday from pancreatic cancer. He was 81.
He is survived by myself, my brother Cory and sisters Linda and Susan.
The cancer hit him suddenly. He was only in the hospital for a week. Dad was not one for doctors, not having seen one in fifty years. This probably both prolonged his life and ended it quickly.
His attitude toward doctors was a subset of his attitude toward life. He was stubborn, passionate and self-reliant. He was also encouraging, good-humored and had an unhealthy obsession with Frank Sinatra.
My father and I had a difficult relationship. Although he was an atheist, he found religion in Ayn Rand and Objectivism. When I was younger I shared his interest in Rand. But as I grew older, I found her views simplistic,constrictive and frankly, wrong. This did not go over well with him and led to a sort of political estrangement. He was the true believer and I was the heretic. In other words, my Dad and I were tribal before tribalism was cool.
We were eventually able to get past our differences and form a sort of detente. We would talk around current events. We’d stick to sports, his grandkids and, you know, Frank. Despite our differences he was always supportive and proud of my writing and cartooning. He never said, “Cut your hair and get a real job.”
Dad was loved. Loved by me, my siblings and his longtime companion, Lyn. He made a difference in this world. He made a difference with me. Much to his own chagrin, he taught me to think critically. He cared passionately about trying to figure out this world. I think he got it wrong, but he tried. He made the effort. And I will always respect him for that.
My favorite memory of Dad was one time when we played golf. I used to be a good golfer (seven handicap) until I realized I had a problem (a golf problem) and had to quit. That particular day I was playing exceptionally well. I was two under at the turn. My lowest nine hold score ever and I was playing with my Dad. Which was weird, because I always wanted to do well when I played with him and had always failed. So I birded the 12th hole. Now I’m three under and on my way to beat my best score by six strokes. It started to rain. Hard. No way I was quitting. Dad hung in there with me. I bogeyed 13. Three putted. 14 is a water hole. It’s start raining harder. I hit it in the drink. I’m starting to panic. Dad stays quiet. I double bogey 14. Now I’m even. 15 is a short par 5. Easy par. But the rain continues. I hit a good drive. Feeling better. Then I slice my second into the woods. Miraculously, I find the ball. Dad has picked up at this time and is sitting in the cart. I double bogey 14. The miracle round is over. I know it. He knows it. The rain knows it. Fucking rain. Dad smiled. He nodded. “You played well. You’ll play well again.” I don’t remember the last three holes. It didn’t matter. Dad thought I’d played well.
One more thing. When we were kids my Dad would take us all for ice cream at Baskin Robbins. Which is to say he went for ice cream and we were allowed to come along. But there was one rule: Whoever spills walks home. You won’t be surprised to hear that no one ever walked home.
But then again, no one ever spilled.
Good-bye Dad. I’m going to miss you.