Thursday, July 3, 2008


In the rare, rare moments of candidness and lucidty during his illness, my dad would make brief mention of his fear. When asked for his thoughts in these moments, he would say:

“When a clown leaves the circus, it’s not the circus he misses – it’s the other clowns.”

And throughout the six months of his illness, these “clowns” came out in droves. After more then 30 years on the police force, he had made his share of friends and admirers. It became very clear, very fast, that my dad’s life, identity and existence was tied up in his status of a Chicago police captain.

What I learned during this time, more than any other time in my dad’s life, was the type of family police officers are. They were the ones calling to “shoot the shit” at 6am, and the ones who knew all about the details of us kids and our accomplishments more than we did. They were the ones with whom my dad spent 20 hours of his days. And for old schoolers like my dad, they worked with each other not for five or ten years, but twenty or thirty years. These guys were more brothers to my father than his own might have been.

And on early Wednesday morning, in Chicago, one of his brothers – one of the closest and longest known to him – was killed in an on-duty incident. Apparently he was shot in the head when trying to stop a disturbance on Belmont. From what is known now, a woman (possibly homeless) was causing a disturbance, and when my dad’s friend approached her, she grabbed his gun from him and pulled the trigger.

He was 60, and one year short of retirement. He has almost three decades on the job. He worked next to my dad in the 18th district for innumerable years, and then next to my dad on all of my dad’s side jobs for almost two decades. Because I often worked at these side jobs too throughout high school, college and grad school, I spent many-a-summer with this man.

When my dad was sick, this man was at out many morning a week, just to sit with my dad, share time with hear, hear another one of my dad’s famous stories, and do just what police officers do for each other in the time of tragedy – sit, listen, support.

This is one of those moments when you feel pissed for the injustice, sad for his family – biological and police- and their loss, and hopeful, because you can just see him sitting up with my dad “shooting the shit” like they did in my dad’s office, and cruising the Heaven version of EBay for sports memorabilia. Just like the old crew did.

But mostly, it just kinda sucks – the randomness and senselessness of it all.

I have no real profound thoughts on this.

It just is.


stronger said...

That's awful- but your post was a nice summary of their friendships.

Tri-Angle said...

I thought your post was very profound Megan. For 30 years this guy did a job that is mostly thankless and very dangerous and difficult. I'm sorry for his family. Both of them.

Krista said...

That's awful. I hate hearing stories like this. I'm really sorry for his friends and loved ones. Sounds like he and your dad had a great friendship.

Prin said...

Was that recent? This Wednesday?

I think cops are super admirable. Every call they respond to without hesitating, never knowing how bad it really might be.

I have to wonder if each on the job tragedy causes them all to face their own mortality and fragility, and if so, the next call must be all the more difficult to respond to.

I'm sorry his family had to lose somebody, and I'm sorry to all the cops who have to overcome it also.

Alili said...

What a tragic death. You did a beautiful job writing about friendship and loyalty.

Andra Sue said...

Oh Megan, how awful. I hate hearing about stuff like hits a little bit close to home b/c I have a close family member on the force in a big and dangerous city. Your post was a nice tribute to the folks who protect and serve us. :)

Brigitte said...

Very nice post. What a sad ending for that man who gave all for his fellow citizen. Police officers dont' get paid enough. And they never get the respect they deserve.

jessica said...


What a tragedy, impossible to grasp, but you wrote such a sincere tribute.

My S is a police officer, and while he likes to "reassure" me by saying he's "more likely to be in a wreck on the way to work than hurt while on duty," there's no denying the extra worry that his job brings.

Even members of our immediate family still gripe to us about their "interactions" with law enforcement, so it's nice to see the positive comments here.

Tiger Lily said...

I am new to your post and I just want to say what a wonderful post.

Brent Buckner said...

That's harsh.

Nice tribute.

kodiacbear said...

Ah Megan, deeply sorry for his loss and what a wonderful and heartwarming tribute to the "old crew".

Anonymous said...

Friendships: You tit it on the head. Some of them become a type of close that gives them more meaning then that of a related. (I hope that made sense). I love my family. But in my life I have made a few friends that seemed closer to any blood relative. I also believe that that special person you spend your life with is a friend with that same special bond.

I feel horrible for your fathers loss. I feel bad for his family. Loss of any kind is hard. Some harder then others.

I like the way you wrote this Megan. Thanks for the read.