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Roger Gitlin: Father’s Day memories

Posted: June 19, 2010 9:38 p.m.
Updated: June 20, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Today is Father’s Day, and I’m going to acknowledge this day a little differently this year. It’s going to be a tough, somber day for our family.

Our son, 35-year-old sheriff’s Deputy Timothy James White unexpectedly passed away April 1 from an undiagnosed blood clot resulting from a torn ACL knee operation he underwent almost a year earlier.

Tim was a great son, a wonderful husband and a remarkable father to Hannah and Luke. Words cannot express our feeling of loss, but go on we must. Tim would have wanted nothing else.

So we are going to play some softball today at Central Park, and our family hopes you will join us at 11 a.m. at diamond No. 1, when deputies from the Pitchess Detention Center south facility take on deputies from the east facility in a game. Tim loved softball and baseball, and we can think of no better way to honor this salt-of-the-earth man than by playing the game he loved so much.

I know many of you will be spending quality time with your father, honoring him over a barbecue or similar family get-together. Make sure you tell your father you love him and appreciate all he has done for you, even if his efforts fell short of the expected results.

It is so easy to take life for granted and not celebrate your father’s role in molding you into the person you are today.

You don’t know if this is the last Father’s Day you will celebrate with your dad.

Timothy was my hero, but I never told him that. I would marvel at how Tim played with his children. He was like a big kid. When I watched  him do what dads do best, role modeling his children, I was a bit envious and mostly in awe of this young man.

Over Christmas 2008, Tim’s mom and I gave him one of those remote-control helicopters you see advertised on television. After I gave it to him, his eyes just lit up like a neon sign at this treasured gift. Some time later, he was outside and was flying the helicopter with precision and ease. His children also participated. I definitely got my money’s worth on that gift.

Humorously, that was not the end of the story. After everyone departed and went home, Angela and I retired to go to sleep and I grabbed the remote control device and attempted to turn the television on. The remote control device wasn’t working. I opened the device and noticed there were no batteries in the unit. I walked downstairs and looked for another remote control device to use those batteries. No batteries in that unit, either. Hmm.

Then it hit me like a sledgehammer — Tim had used the batteries to operate his Christmas helicopter. I was furious. So I called him, late into the evening. In a low, seething anger that grew in intensity with each syllable I uttered: “Timothy, did you remove the batteries from my remote control?” There was a long pause on the other end of the line. After all, it was almost midnight, and I suspect Tim was not expecting that kind of call from me.

In a sheepish but oh-so-innocent retort, he acknowledged what he had done, apologized and then said, “Roger, when you give someone a really neat gift like that, you especially need to include batteries.” Another long pause — this time on my end of the line. Dumfounded, I said, “Tim, you are so absolutely right, how inconsiderate of me.”

We both laughed. Oh, I wish I could have that moment back. God, how I wish I have that moment back.

Tell your dad, (or son, if he’s a father) you love him and tell him how proud you are of him this Father’s Day.

I want to give special thanks to the city of Santa Clarita, City Councilman Bob Kellar, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and so many of his deputies who assisted in putting this event together. A big “thank you” from the White family.

Come see us today at Central Park diamond No. 1. Happy Father’s Day.

   Roger Gitlin is a teacher, founder of the Santa Clarita Valley Independent Minuteman and state director of the Patriot’s Coalition. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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