In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 9, 2007 / 23 Tamuz, 5767

How do you mourn an absent father?

By Mitch Albom

Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | A reporter uncovers many things, but he shouldn't find a father before a son does.

That happened to me once, in a golf and tennis park in a suburb of Atlanta. A beige car pulled up and out stepped Jimmy Walker. In 1967, Walker was a standout at Providence and became the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, chosen ahead of guys like Earl Monroe and Walt Frazier. He went on to play pro ball in Detroit and elsewhere, before disappearing into rumor, bad business deals and obscurity.

Now, here he was, in his late 40s, his glory days long since passed. He walked slightly pigeon-toed, wore a designer sweatsuit and was elusive and cryptic, except when he asked me, several times, to provide "compensation" for our interview.

I had tracked down Jimmy Walker because he was the long-lost father of a talented Michigan college player named Jalen Rose. Jalen had never met the man. Didn't even know where he lived. Suddenly, in that suburban Atlanta park, life was out of order. I knew the son, who didn't know his father, and I'd met the father, who didn't know his son.

"During the time that Jalen was born," Walker told me, "… I didn't handle the situation well. I think, when Jeanne (Rose) told me she was pregnant, being the immature person that I was, I said, 'Stop kidding.' … We didn't communicate right, and now Jalen has gone 20 years without meeting his father….

"I don't have any regrets. … That's just the way things happen sometimes."

Walker removed his sunglasses and spoke candidly about his troubled youth. He spoke about his career. He asked again for "compensation." None was given.

Before he left, he handed me a piece of paper with his phone number. "Tell him to call me, if he wants," he said.

That was 14 years ago. Last week, Jimmy Walker died of lung cancer. He was 63. The obituary said he passed away in Kansas City. There were praise-filled quotes from Dave Bing, Bob Cousy and other notable teammates and coaches. Still, it took Walker's death certificate to do what most of them hadn't been able to do in life: find him.

For the record, I did offer that phone number to Jalen. At first he refused it. By that point, he had grown up a fatherless child, one of countless fatherless children in this country. He didn't feel a sudden need to reconnect.

"I might ask him where he's been all these years," Jalen said.

Some icebreaker, huh?

Whenever people dismiss young men — particularly athletes — as being unruly, bad-mannered or irresponsible, I wish they would first find out if they'd had to grow up without a father in the house. As someone blessed to have both parents, still alive and married, it is incomprehensible to me how a father, willingly, could ignore his child. Or how a child could grow up knowing a man was out there who looked like him and moved like him — as Jalen did Jimmy — and have no contact whatsoever.

Is it any wonder that many of these kids never learn how to behave like men? Or that many repeat their fathers' irresponsible ways?

Jalen Rose, by the way, was an exception. He has enjoyed a long NBA career. He gives a good amount to charity — including college scholarships to deserving Detroit high school seniors, some of whom likely come from broken homes themselves.

I don't know if he ever privately called his father. I know it was a happy night for him when he surpassed his dad's point total as an NBA player. And I can't imagine if his heart ached when he heard the news of Walker's death. How badly can you miss something you never had? Does it only make it worse?

I do remember Walker, before he left that day, telling me about his own father, whom he also never knew. He said, when he was 20, he found out the old man had died.

"I think he got burned in a fire."

How did you feel when you heard that?

"I felt that a person just died, that's all. Just a person."

Sadly, he was stating his epithet. When you ignore your child, that's all you are. Just a person. Not a father. That word must be earned.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

"For One More Day"  

"For One More Day" is the story of a mother and a son, and a relationship that covers a lifetime and beyond. It explores the question: What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one? Sales help fund JWR.

Comment on Mitch's column by clicking here.

Mitch's Archives