It's hard to believe a person like myself can be at a loss for words, but that is exactly where I found myself at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 10.
It was at that time my father Harry passed, and for the first time in as long as I remember, I had no words.
As I sit here writing this, I am still stuck looking for words to describe my feelings. The obvious words like saddened, devastated, heartbroken and crushed certainly apply, but there is a feeling lingering that I do not know how to describe.
Since as long as I can remember, my dad was larger than life to me and it wasn't just me that felt that way. Boil -- as he was known to my friends and I (think of the 1970s animated TV show "Wait Till Your Father Gets Home" where the lead character's name was Harry Boyle) -- was a central figure in many a kid's life in Pleasanton.
He was one of four founding fathers of the Ballistic United Soccer Club in 1968. Here was a man that had no idea what soccer was other than what we saw when we went to an Oakland Clippers game earlier that year.
He was a former college and high school football coach, and now he was getting involved in some weird sport called soccer. But like everything else he encountered in life, he took it and ran with it.
By the time he was done coaching he had won multiple state championships, saw his team win tournaments across the country, as well as North America, and finally earn induction to multiple soccer halls of fame.
In the last week, I've spent time communicating with many former players, and there was one constant thread -- he helped his players on their journey to be respected men.
His coaching methods would not fly in this day. For starters, he held his players accountable, something sorely missing today. His teams played over 100 games a year, practiced four days a week, and soccer took precedent over all other sports.
He took everything he learned coaching football and applied it to this sport called soccer. Cleats had to be polished or you didn't play.
You needed to attend every practice each week or you didn't start. It didn't matter if you were the best player or it was a state championship: miss a practice and you were on the bench.
Being on one of his teams took an incredible commitment of time, but he was determined not to let it affect the players academic life. He regularly sent grade checks to each player's teachers and if they came back substandard, then the player was suspended from the team until their grades were acceptable.
The team traveled a lot, and he had the players write a report about where they went, talking about the history of the area.
Imagine that today.
He instilled the idea to his players that with hard work and discipline, great things can be accomplished. I have heard from countless former players over the years that they have passed on those virtues to their own children or teams they have coached.
But while my sister Pam and I had to share our dad each year with 18 new siblings, we still were blessed with an incredible father. We didn't mind sharing because we realized what the payoff would be for his players.
He made sure I had a basket out in front of our house as I loved basketball. When it was baseball season, I remember watching him count off the distance from what would be the plate to the mound, then spend hours crouched as a catcher while I pitched to him.
Then there were all the trips where he took childhood friend Mitch Pereira and me down to the batting cages in Milpitas to work on our hitting.
The regular fishing trips that extended into my adult years and included trips to Alaska to catch halibut and salmon are always going to be in the forefront of my mind and will always be remembered with a smile.
While I watched the body be taken out of the house following his passing, I had a moment of clarity. That wasn't my dad, but rather the vessel that his indomitable spirit had occupied for 86 years.
My dad will never be gone in our hearts or minds. What he taught all of us will live on in every one of us he touched.
He had been bedridden for three years and it was tough to see such a strong man diminish, but that I got to say good night every night and good morning each new day is something I will always cherish.
Don't worry about mom; Pam and I have got that covered, dad. My sister and I are blessed to have our incredible spouses, and we are thankful every day for Chuck and Coni.
The only way I can think to end this column is with the words I said every night when I stopped at his bed before heading back to our room.
I love you dad.
Editor's note: Ballistic United has established the Harry Miller Coaching Endowment. For more information contact BUSC President Scott McMillin at [email protected]