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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My Competitive Parents


In thinking about how long my life might now last, it occurred to me that as of March of this year, I will have lived longer than did either of my parents, Robert and LeNore Whaley. They both died of cigarettes: Dad at 61 in 1980, and Mom five years later. He had a series of heart attacks, and she had an ugly death from emphysema. I miss them both very much.

They were wonderful people, very much in love since their marriage right after Pearl Harbor in 1941, until the end. I had a happy childhood, as did my sister Mary Beth, and we were very lucky to have been raised by such intelligent, funny, and caring people.

No one had more fun than the two of them did. They were both very athletic, being champion amateur golfers (they won the Bermuda Amateur Couples Golf Tournament in the 1960s), bowlers (when Dad, who was an Air Force officer until he retired---and I talked him into following me through law school; long story there for another day---was stationed in Japan, Mom bowled the highest score that a woman had till then ever bowled in that country: 270, for which she threw seven strikes in a row), and more. They were very competitive both when playing others, or between themselves, but it was all done with an enormous sense of fun.

One favorite story:

When we (Dad and Mom, sister Mary Beth and I, see photo) were stationed in Japan (1954-57) and I was a boy (age 11-13), at one point Dad’s squadron had a picnic. It turned into a softball game, men v. women (all wives in those days), with the men having the handicap of having to bat wrong-handed (left if they were right handed, for example). There were no gloves, so everyone had to field balls barehanded. There had also, I suspect, been a number of beers consumed prior to the game.

Mom was the pitcher for the wives, and when Dad came to bat, she started in on him with comments like, “All right, Ladies, here’s an easy out! This man can’t bat when he’s under no handicap!” To this Dad replied, “Watch out, honey. I’m going to knock this ball right down your throat.”

And that’s what happened. He hit a tremendous drive right at her, and, by golly, she caught it, breaking her thumb in the process. That, I believe, ended the game.

But the next morning at breakfast, as we were all sitting there, Mom held up her bandaged thumb and extended it, with a grin, right in Dad's face.

“You were out!” she said.
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Related Posts:
"Goodbye to St. Paddy's Day," March 2, 2010
“Bob Whaley, Boy Lawyer,” March 28, 2010
"My Mother's Sense of Humor," April 4, 2010
“The Sayings of Robert Whaley,” May 13, 2010
“Bob Whaley and the Best Evidence Rule,” June 26, 2010
“Bob and Kink Get Married,” June 2, 2010
“Dad and the Cop Killer,” July 19, 2010
“No Pennies In My Pocket,” July 30, 2010
“Doug, Please Get My Clubs From the Trunk,” August 20, 2010
“The Death of Robert Whaley,” September 7, 2010
"My Missing Grandmother," December 26, 2010
"Bob Whaley Trapped in Panama," January 21, 2011
"The Death of My Mother," March 31, 2011
“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013

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