Happy Father’s Day

19 Jun

In an earlier post on this blog, I wrote briefly about a time where Jeff and I met in the city to grab “a drink or two” for happy hour, before both catching a MetroNorth train back to Chappaqua. That get-together is one I often mention when remembering Jeff, as it was just one of those things that was “classic Klein”: a spur of the moment afternoon happy hour – because, why not?

I also remember that time as the first instance in which I met Jeff’s father, Rich. I had heard about him plenty of times before, as Jeff often mentioned his father in conversation. That day, after a couple of glasses of wine and a rainy walk to Grand Central Station, Jeff and I continued to talk about sports and politics on that train ride home, before the question arose of just how we’d get to our respective houses after arriving at the Chappaqua stop.

“I’ll call my dad and he’ll drive you home,” Jeff said.

While I don’t remember exactly what my response was, I know I protested. Not only did I live in Millwood, at least a 10 or 15 minute drive out the way for Rich to drive, but I was somewhere between the point of “just a little bit tipsy” and full-on drunk. Having never met Jeff’s father, I didn’t want our first meeting to be one in which I was incoherent and asking him to go so far out of his way for me. I threw out the idea of calling Brooke instead, knowing she’d be there in a second to come pick me up if I needed her to. But Jeff insisted.

And so, Rich came and picked us up from the train station and appeared happy to drive me all the way back to Millwood. And though it was a relatively brief drive, I remember feeling relieved that he was so nice about everything, even asking me about my job and life post-college as I sat in the backseat and tried to hide my wine buzz.

The three of us also talked about Jeff’s blog, Talkin’ Sports. The discussion then became one about sports (I think about the NBA), and I remember Rich and Jeff talking about the topic, not so much like father and son, but like good buddies. Because that’s what they were.

I’m a self-admitted daddy’s girl, even at the age of 24. I love my father more than anyone else in the world, and I rely on him for many things. But I’m not best friends with my father the way Rich and Jeff are best friends.

Their friendship is something I knew of well before meeting Rich, as Jeff talked about his dad all the time. He would repeat stories, text messages and jokes the two shared frequently. But the strength of their bond has become ever more  to me and many others since last November. The relationship the two of them have is so rare, for a dad and son to have not just a paternal bond, but a genuine, unbreakable friendship.

Like all of us, I think about Jeff quite often. I think about the loss I feel and the painful idea that I’ll never get to hang out with Jeff for another happy hour or late-night at Michaels. But each time these thoughts cross my mind, all I can think about is how, as difficult as these thoughts are to cope with, it must be  a hundred times more excruciating for Jeff’s family. Despite this, the strength the Kleins have all shown is beyond impressive. On Father’s Day, a day which must serve as a painful reminder of their loss, I hope it can also serve as a happy reminder of such a valuable and unique relationship between father and son.

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