I got the call from my sister just after 1:30am that my dad, Keith Veale, had died in what sounds like a pretty peaceful fashion. It was a call I had been bracing for for quite some time due to his combination of age (81) and history of heart disease. But it’s still not an easy call to take.
Like a lot of folks, I am a child that has been profoundly shaped by divorce and remarriage. For some, this can be a traumatic experience that makes you cynical about love and marriage. But this has not been my experience. My mom was remarried when I was still quite young (7) and for me, “normal” was having two dads who both loved me and taught me what it means to be a man.
My dad was one of the truly nicest people you’d ever want to meet. He was the kind of guy who was up without an alarm way before the sun came up so that he could be down at the local coffee shop when it opened at 5:30am. Yes he loved coffee, but more than that, he loved talking with the people in the shop.
He was an active golfer – still playing once or twice a week into his eighties though it had started to get difficult to walk the course for him. My love of golf comes from him. He bought me my first set of clubs and showed me how to play. And not just how to chip and putt (which I do very badly indeed), but more importantly, how to conduct yourself on the course and to how to carry that through to everyday life.
After moving to California with my mom (within days of his first heart attack) in the summer of 1988, my dad sold timeshares for a number of years. He had been a salesman for most of his adult life and really enjoyed it. I know that timeshare salesmen have a generally poor reputation. Too bad most of them weren’t like my dad or the industry would be viewed far better than it is. In the last couple of years, as I’ve been working on a startup in the timeshare industry, he was thrilled to offer advice and coaching. Recently, he was excited that the advice and coaching could go both ways as he volunteered to build a website for the Model A Restorer’s Club meetup coming to San Diego in 2011. He loved tinkering with his computer and for years he taught many other senior citizens how to use theirs.
More than anything, my dad was a true role model as a husband and father. He loved my mom with a selflessness that is hard to describe – in sickness and in health. He sacrificed to try and make her dreams come true, even to the point of extreme financial hardship. And when she was dying of cancer, he cared for her with a tenderness and tirelessness that revealed a depth of character I can only dream of.
In short, my dad was a great man and will be truly missed. I love you pops.
December 1, 1928 – April 21, 2010