Packers XLV

Why Am I a Packer Fan? My Dad, Of Course.

Posted November 4th, 2014 @ 04:11am

My dad passed away on Monday afternoon. If you've wondered why I haven't been as prolific this season, it's because my dad was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer seven weeks ago and, well, you get it.

He spent his final days with the wonderful people at the Lawlis Family Hospice at Columbia St-Mary's in Mequon, WI. By Sunday afternoon it was hard for him to talk but he scratched out two final questions: He wondered if his dog was home (she wasn't) and how the Packers were doing (they weren't doing much of anything).

I forgive him for forgetting it was the bye week; but I'm not surprised that football was on his mind. He was a lifelong Packer fan, even though he spent his first 30 years in Saint Paul. The Vikings weren't around in the 40s and 50s; the Twin Cities was, perish the thought, Packers country (though they weren't very good--kind of like my formative years, the 70s and 80s).

Sundays were always reserved for Packers football and playing catch in the backyard. I have old photos of  five year old me wearing a Packers helmet with Travis Williams' #23 stenciled on the side of the helmet. I don't believe jerseys with players numbers were available on back then. He may have been a one year wonder, but the Road Runner and his 41 yard kickoff return average obviously had a huge impact on this preschooler.

More often than not, we watched the game at my grandparents' house, ruled by Grandma Dorothy, whose relationship with my dad was as close as a mother's with her son. For those of you who go back to the early years of "Packer Preview," you'll recall that Grandma Dorothy was the original star of the show. She came on at the end each week to give her prediction. Imagine a loving, always worried, nearly perfect 90ish grandma sweating out the score, always fearing that Brett Favre would throw the fateful pick to snatch defeat from victory. Watching games with her and my family was, like it probably was for most of you, a religious experience--even though most years the team offered little hope. I was born at the dawn of the Lombardi era. By the time I was old enough to get it, Phil Bengston was patrolling the sidelines.

My dad loved the game and rarely missed his Gophers and his Packers. My last great memory with him was a few weeks back when my family visited in Milwaukee. He was still doing okay and it was a perfect afternoon. We had a quick lunch at a family tradition, Benjy's Deli and then went home and watched the second half of the Gophers game against Purdue--a furious and unlikely comeback win by Goldy.

His battle lasted only seven weeks and mercifully he went out on his own terms and with very little pain. For my mom and sister and brother and our loved ones it's been a very difficult final couple of weeks, seeing the man we loved most in the world taken away so quickly.

But the funny, kind, loving man that Mel Sinykin was will never be forgotten. I hit the dad jackpot and am thankful for the 52 years I got to hang with him. I'll think about him every day. Especially on Packer game days.

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Comments (29):

Dave - I am just catching up on your HeadCheese writings and I am sorry to hear about your dad's passing. I grew up in a small Wisconsin town (Neillsville) and being a little older than you I got to watch the Packers with my dad during the glory years of the 1960's. He passed away 10 years ago but like you some of my favorite memories were watching the games and then going out at halftime to throw the football around. That 15 minutes went by so quickly. We are very fortunate that there are multiple dad jackpots and there are many times that I thank my lucky stars. Over time your pain will ease, but your good memories of your dad will never go away. Take care and thanks for the optimistic perspective you always share about our team.

on November 10th, 2014 at 12:05pm

im glad I got to read this..

on November 3rd, 2014 at 11:18pm

Beautiful tribute to a beautiful man

on November 4th, 2014 at 01:53pm

Loving words shared about a loving, kind, funny and giving father! Having yet another layer of he Mel you just shared adds even more dimension to this amazing man. We are so sad for your loss! His memory will always be for a blessing!

on November 4th, 2014 at 03:44pm

Beautiful, David. There are so many stories and memories unique to Mel, who was one-of-a-kind in so many ways. First and foremost, a mensch. See you Thursday. Love, L and E (and J in China, who's grieving from afar)

on November 4th, 2014 at 03:49pm

I'm sorry for your loss Davey, I always say, when I lose a friend or family member, there not in pain anymore, it helps me get thru it. our prayers are with you and your family. . and it's good to see how many fans you have on your site. I wish more would right in there comments on the games. this is not the time to worry about the game, today is about your Dad. Go Mel and the Packers.

on November 4th, 2014 at 03:57pm

Sorry for your loss, THC. Sounds like a great man. I'm sure the Pack will beat the Bears in his honor on Sunday night! RIP Mel.

on November 4th, 2014 at 07:18am

Beautiful tribute Sinny. Thinking of your family; what a wonderful man and legacy he has left.

on November 4th, 2014 at 09:33am

Dave, Take comfort in knowing that Mel can have a seat next to Paul watching The Pack from heaven. Among this items we buried my dad with was his beloved Packers cap.

on November 4th, 2014 at 09:36am

David, Your story reminds me of my uncle Al. He grew up on the south side of Chicago and was a big White Sox fan. When he was dying he asked to see is son Bud. My aunt (Al’s wife) thought that Al was going to tell his son that he always loved his wife and that Bud should take care of his mother. So she followed Bud in to the hospital room to hear what her husband said. She later told the family that Al asked Bud, “how did the Sox do? Who pitched.” We will miss your father. We are in New York but flying to Milwaukee early Thursday.

on November 4th, 2014 at 09:40pm

My deepest sympathy for your loss Davy. Your 52 wonderfull years with your dad made me think of the 49 years I had with my dad who past away years ago. I went to my first Packer game at the old Milwaukee County Stadium when the Pack played home games there. It was why I too became a Packer fan growing up in Milwaukee....spending those Sundays watching Pack games with him and Bart Starr at QB. Your dad passed on great values to you and much more in values and family love than Packer football. My prayers are with you and your family. GO MEL GO !! RIP !!

on November 4th, 2014 at 09:49pm

David - Beautifully written. We're grieving with all of you. See you Thursday. Love...

on November 4th, 2014 at 10:01am

David - Beautifully written about beautiful memories. We're grieving deeply with all of you. See you Thursday. Love...

on November 4th, 2014 at 10:03am

What a beautiful tribute, Dave! Your dad is one of a kind....hope to see you in Milwaukee...xoxoxoxo

on November 4th, 2014 at 10:26am

Sending love to you and your family. What a wonderful tribute to your terrific dad. On game days now, I feel my dad…the Packers bring him to me each week of season. I catch his voice on clips they televise pre-game but just hearing the sound of the crowd and the roar after a touchdown helps me hold my father closer even though he's no longer here. How fortunate we are that this storied team will always be here to remind us of our cherished dads.

on November 4th, 2014 at 10:43am

Very sorry for your loss. I find the more I think about my father, the better man, husband, and father I strive to be. Think of him often, he will still guide your way.

on November 4th, 2014 at 12:01am

Sorry to hear about your father Dave, sounds a lot like mine. He'll always live on in a way through your Packer fandom!

on November 4th, 2014 at 12:18am

It is hard losing someone you love, especially a father. You have my sympathy. Rest in peace, and peace to those who loved him.

on November 4th, 2014 at 12:25am

Dave, Great blog regarding your Dad. My thoughts go out to you and your family. Sounds like you have many good memories to comfort you during this difficult time.

on November 4th, 2014 at 12:25am

Dave, my condolences to you for what you're going through. I lost my mom 2 years ago in January, and it still sticks with me. She was a huge Packer fan, and I think of her on game days. You'll fee the same way about your dad as time goes on. You wrote a great tribute to him, and thanks for sharing that with us.

on November 5th, 2014 at 01:34am

Dave, I would expect nothing less than a wonderful tribute than what you've written above. Nicely done, as always. Like you, I can relate having lost a parent this year (and one that has handed down a rich tradition and love for the Packers). The season is not the same hearing my mom scream "GO GO GO!" (yes, even louder than I can be!). Good traditions are always treasured ... and luckily for us passed down to be shared with us fans. I didn't need to know Mel to know what a wonderful man he was. We know the apple did not fall far from the tree. Many condolences Dave to you and your family. ~ Lori Thompson & Family ~

on November 5th, 2014 at 09:32am

I'm sorry for your loss, David. I have enjoyed you and your show from the early Grandma Dorothy days. I am sure they are both proud of you- keep their memories alive in your family.

on November 5th, 2014 at 10:04am

Sorry to hear about your dad passing. This is a lovely tribute. May his memory always be a blessing.

on November 5th, 2014 at 11:06am

Sorry for your loss. A wonderful tribute to a special man in your life. Thank you for refreshing those memories of Packer Sunday afternoons in Wisconsin. Go Pack! Go Dads!

on November 5th, 2014 at 11:34am

So sorry to hear about the passing of your father, thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. As big of a Packer fan as he and your family is, it's a heck of a coincidence that he passed away during a bye week, almost like he planned it that way as not to interfere with the Packers schedule.

on November 6th, 2014 at 03:42pm

Sinny, Sorry about your loss. Dads are amazing men who have shaped all of us one way or another. Let's win it all this year in honor of ALL OUR DADS.

on November 6th, 2014 at 06:23am

Very sorry for your loss and thank you for the tribute. I, like many others on this blog, have similar stories and can only imagine you grief. peace and love to you and your family.

on November 6th, 2014 at 06:32pm

My condolences to you and your family. Enjoyed reading your article about your father.

on November 6th, 2014 at 08:19pm

My condolences to you and your family, Dave. I wrote a very similar tribute to my Dad when he passed away four years ago on another Packers forum. He also was a father instrumental in my being a lifelong Packers fan; among other things. My Dad's lifetime, as yours, covered every single one of the 13 world championship seasons besides all the rest. He suffered a stroke and died of complications just two days after the Pack opened the 2010 season with a win over the Eagles to start their most recent Super Bowl run. Pity he didn't make it longer to see it come to fruition. Anyway, I relate very much to what you shared. Thank you and again my sympathies to you and yours.

on November 7th, 2014 at 06:53am

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