R.I.P., John Brattain

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My friend and former colleague John Brattain joined the faithful departed this week. He did so far too soon. Here’s how I remembered him in what is–despite my contributions–a moving, fitting, and loving tribute to him over at BTF:

My first meaningful job in sports writing was as MLB editor of the now-defunct sportstalk.com, probably 10 years ago. During that time, I had the privilege of editing John’s work. He’d file a column and tell me how closely I needed to proofread based on how much he’d been drinking when he wrote it (he actually had some kind of 10-point scale for this purpose). And then I’d barely touch a word.

He was just a good, good man. John and his family will be at the top of my prayers tonight, and I’ll hoist a pint in his honor. Fair sailing, my friend.

John leaves behind a wife and two daughters. If you knew–and inevitably loved–John or if you just want to honor a dear man you never met, then please join me in contributing to his memorial fund.

To give you an idea of the kinda guy John is, here’s part of an email he sent to our mutual friend Larry Mahnken a couple of years ago, in which he remembers a brush with death:

I would like to say this: I feel like old King Hezekiah of Judah. Here’s a blurb: “In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, ‘This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.’ Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, ‘Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.’ And Hezekiah wept bitterly. Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: ‘Go and tell Hezekiah, This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life.’ “–Isaiah 38:1-5

You see, when I had my truck accident back in 1991 I knew I was dead. I knew the terrain and that it was a looooooong way down where I went off the road. I wasn’t scared. Just a little sad. They say that before you die your life flashes before your eyes.

That didn’t happen with me. I saw my future–or rather what I was going to miss. My oldest was two, my youngest seven months old. I thought that I would miss my youngest’s first steps, her first words, their first day of school, their graduations, letting them cry on my shoulder after a boy broke their hearts for the first time etc.

If the moment before I lost consciousness an angel appeared and said to me: “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life” I would’ve been deliriously happy. Guess what? I got that 15 years and then some. If that’s all I am allotted how can I be anything but grateful? I saw my girls grow from cute babies to fine young women. I’ve seen them both graduate into high school and come June I will see my eldest in a cap and gown yet again. I saw first steps, heard first words and hugged my family thousands of times over the last decade and a half. I relearned how to walk, I went camping again many times and hiked hundreds of miles in the woods and lost countless monster fish while on the water …

Really, I aspire to be half the man John Brattain was on his worst day ever.

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