That’s the only way I could describe him.
A man of few words, few people in his life, and just….
In 2011 I told him I wanted to start a gym.
“A fucking gym, DJ?”
He called me DJ.
I think he was still in shock because when he was in my life the most (1-17 years old), I was pushing 400lbs, couldn’t see my belt buckle, and was keeping Little Debbie in business.
“Yes, dad, a gym.”
Now granted by this time I had graduated with my exercise science degree, worked in nursing homes, worked in physical therapy offices, and worked in gyms, but it still caught him off guard.
I was a young and dumb 21 year old at the time, and I had no one else for support, my mom had passed away in 2010 so he was it.
I still remember him driving around with me as I responded to Craigslist ads about used fitness equipment.
He had a big truck at the time, he couldn’t do much physically, but he would always drive with me and find a place to sit as I negotiated with the random people on how much I think a set of dumbbells are worth.
He helped me take rides to Tractor Supply where we bought all our flooring (stall mats) at the time, almost bottoming out his suspension in his truck as we drove it back to our first location.
During renovations, again he couldn’t do much, but he found the one antique chair that was left in the space from the previous tenant, plopped himself in the middle and watched as I sweat my ass off 16 hours a day trying to build my dream.
Although he never voiced it, he was a man of very, very, very few words, I knew he was always there for me.
When it came time to start having to spend money to start the gym in 2012 he let me max out his credit card, an amount so small today, but without it I wouldn’t be where I am today.
As the years went on his health continued to decline.
Eventually, my aunt passed away who was taking care of him, and my brother and I decided to move him up to Maine.
I found a nice little apartment in Cape Porpoise on the water and moved him to Maine.
He seemed to love it.
Earlier this year we got a notice that the owner was selling the building and my dad had to leave.
After chatting it over with Megan, I had my opportunity to pay back my dad for everything he did for me.
This past spring, we bought him a house.
A simple one.
One bedroom, one bath, a condo association so he didn’t need to worry about snow, landscaping, or anything like that.
It only took one truckload to move him from his Cape Porpoise apartment.
I’m not joking.
A couple of boxes and his recliner.
He slept in his recliner, watched TV in his recliner, and ate in his recliner.
A recliner, a TV, and a of couple boxes.
That was it.
That’s all he ever wanted.
I remember continuing to ask him every time I saw him (of course now I reflect back and say it was not enough)…
“Do you need anything, dad?”
“Are you happy, dad?”
No matter the question the answer was always simple.
My dad had a slew of health issues that would take up multiple pages in the printer, everything from end stage renal failure to COPD, to diabetes, and everything in between.
He was a ticking time bomb.
His words, not mine.
Well, Wednesday, October 3, 2018, the bomb went off.
My dad was supposed to be at dialysis on Wednesday.
Multiple people in the community know that, and it was odd to see his truck parked at his house on a Wednesday evening.
As Megan stopped over to the gym to grab me, I knew something was up.
“People can’t get ahold of your dad and his truck is still in the driveway.”
I knew the moment she said it.
He was dead.
The reality came when I left the gym, pulled into the parking lot and the Paramedic came out of the front door.
The paramedic is a long time client of the gym, and this was not the first time either of us had gone through this.
“He’s gone, Doug.”
We laughed, hugged, and he went back to work to save more lives.
We laugh because what else can you do?
He and I have now both lost are parents young.
My mom died when I was 21 and now my dad at 29.
It’s a weird feeling that you’re not even 30 and you don’t have any parents alive anymore.
However, as most of you know, I’ve written about it at length in the past…
My mom was the reason I kept my last name on the doors of Spurling Fitness and the Spurling Community of Businesses that continue to grow.
Now, my dad will be up there next to her.
It just continues to drive me to make them proud.
That’s how I’ll leave it.
We can learn a lot from my dad, a man of such few words, but so simple.
On Sunday we had my dad over for dinner and he got to see Kaden one last time.
For that, I’m forever grateful.
Thanks, dad. Say hi to mom.
PS: This is only picture I have of my dad with my son.