There are many ways to look at any given situation, and there are many ways to look at a particular person. We are always influenced by our own position, background, history, relationships, and our own personality. Such is the condition of the human race.
I could talk about my father, Don Brennan as National Accounts Manager at Westvaco, I could discuss his service as a Flight Engineer in the Naval Air Corps, I could talk about him as the husband of Ginger, I could talk about his beloved role as Cat owner/Cat Lover of Jessica, Tipper, and Phoebe, I could discuss his intellectualism, or love of hockey. All of these were part of who Don Brennan was, and each of them would require a rather lengthy, detailed narrative. Fortunately for you all, I am not going to do that. First of all, it would take too long, second of all, he didn’t want any kind of memorial at all, so we are being naughty in the first place to even remember him. But a life like his is worthy of honor, and remembrance of him is the right thing to do, no matter what he may have thought. Besides, what’s he going to do to stop us? So here we are, Dad. Remembering you whether you like it or not. You’ll be fine.
I will talk about Don Brennan as my Dad. My Dad was a manly man, in the classic sense. He was old school, yet very progressive. He was vintage, yet contemporary. And he was intellectual, but had a sparkling sense of humor. There were a lot of facets to who my Dad was, and some seeming paradoxes. But the whole package was impressive.
I remember being proud of my Dad’s big arms when I was little, and I was aware that he was a very good looking guy. He was always athletic, and that made me proud. He made sure that I learned to swim (very well I might add), and that we had a pool in the backyard. He made sure that we had a hockey rink in the backyard (it was a big yard), and I learned to play hockey and played in the Southfield Hockey league. I saw him at nearly every game I played, even though I was a *gasp* third liner. He made sure I learned to golf, and he, my brother Mike, and I played many spirited rounds of golf on a number of different courses. I lost every time, but I loved it.
I remember going to a number of Detroit Red Wings games at the old Olympia Stadium in Detroit, back when the Red Wings were called the Dead Things, and they were usually awful. But what wonderful memories of Hot Dogs, Bud Lynch, and amazing Hockey atmosphere. My Dad loved the game, and I am a rabid Red Wings fan to this day. So are his grandchildren. I remember when the Wings won the Stanley Cup in 1997, thus ending a 42 year drought of championships, and my Dad and I practically wept with pride over the phone. We shared that.
I remember him as the lawgiver in our home. And with five kids growing up in one house, the need for order was strong. It became a joke with us kids about what Dad would say: “you diddle around and you screw around, and sooner or later someone gets hurt or something gets broken”. Spoken like a true father. And also a prophet, because someone usually did get hurt, and something usually did get broken. Fortunately, it wasn’t usually life threatening.
The other notable feature of our home was a sense of humor. My dad had the best sense of humor of anyone I ever met, and he could crack us all up. We laughed a lot in our house, and all of us kids picked up what I call the Brennan sense of humor. Somewhat askew, not too highbrow, not too lowbrow. The Three Stooges and Wile E. Coyote made him crack up, but so did Peter Sellers, Bill Cosby and Bob Newhart. He was very eclectic in his tastes, even in humor. He was never a knee-jerk reactionary to new ideas. He considered other opinions, and gave them real consideration.
Music was another of his loves. I remember having everything from Henry Mancini, to Herb Alpert, to Tchaikovsky, to the Ventures in our home. These were LP records – made of vinyl, and spun on a turntable, and made audible with a diamond chip. I remember him showing me the 1812 Overture when I was about 12, and teaching me what the different themes meant, and the cannons at the end. He taught me to close my eyes and listen. I still do this to this day. I listen to every genre of music, and trawl for good stuff, like my Dad did. If something is good, the style is secondary. Good music transcends genre, and touches the heart. I learned that from my Dad.
As I got older, I spoke with my Dad about philosophy and religion. He was remarkably sophisticated on these subjects, and very knowledgeable about the Bible, as well as the writings of Augustine, St. Francis and others. We had some very deep talks, and it was clear to me that there were many subjects that we touched only briefly, that he had considered in vast depth. I was named after a priest – Thomas Matthew McEnoy, and my Dad’s spiritual side was always apparent to me. It was as much a part of what he was as anything else.
I must summarize, but this is impossible. I miss my father profoundly, and his perspective, wisdom and rational outlook with a spiritual twist. There will never be another Don Brennan, and we rejoice that we knew Him. Our lives are all richer for having been close to him. Now, it is upon us to take the influence that we received from him, and make our own sphere of influence better.
God Bless you Dad, we love you.