My dad Mort, adventurer extraordinaire. “Pack your bags. We’re taking a weekend trip.”
Mort (right) with his younger brother Jon, circa 1950
Virtually every weekend, my brother and I took a trip with Dad. Sometimes near, often far. We piled in the car. Off we went. We never knew where until we arrived. It might be just a few hours. It could be days. It was always a surprise.
Even on a rare weekend at home, Dad took us on long walks to pick up driftwood from Long Island Sound; or a short drive to check out new local sites. The Dukehart boys were doers, not observers. Dad wanted us to learn the world by experiencing it. And, he loved to spend time with his boys. We felt the same about him.READ MORE
Kindergarten, first grade, second grade — my tidbits of terror were becoming well known until… the apology letter.
Casey Hague — Trouble?
Second grade. Mrs. Robinson’s class. Report card day. I was eight. Report cards at this level were not typical grades, but O (outstanding), S (satisfactory), or N (not good) — indicators to parents of what was to come. I thought nothing of it. Didn’t even look.
I walked into the house and tossed the card on the table. Time for some skateboard action outside. “Casey, come in,” I heard Dad yell. His voice sounded an unhappy tone.
I sauntered back into the house. Dad looked upset. “Sit down,” he said, pointing to a kitchen chair. “Did you see this report card?” The tone. The look. I’d seen it before. Dad was mad. READ MORE
My dad would have been 66 years old yesterday. I lost him to bone cancer seven months ago. In his eulogy I passed forward the half-dozen philosophies he taught me that shaped me into the man I am today, in the hope they might benefit those in attendance.
Darren Hardy in his father’s arms
In honor and celebration of his birthday I’d like to pass one of those philosophies forward to you. This one saved my life… and defined my life.
You might know that my parents divorced when I was only 18 months old. My mother never really wanted to be a mother (she got angry when she found out she was pregnant with me), so when they split up, she cheerfully handed me over to my dad.
My dad didn’t know what to do with me either. He was only 23 years old when I was born. He had just moved from his hometown, in the San Francisco Bay Area, to what seemed like the middle of nowhere in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
An interspecies friendship — an amazing love story.
Awful in every way. What was happening to me? I was a baby. Age one year at the time. Christmas 2004. Everything gone. A terrible storm. My home demolished. My mom, dad, my brothers and sisters — drowned.
Owen & Mzee, best friends forever
The violent sea snatched me away. It carried me for days. Until a foreign shore appeared. The landscape strange — I knew I was far from home.
Voices, shouting. Strange beings all around. A net over my head. I was too weak to fight — almost. And, I had grown pretty big — about 650 pounds at the time. I was dehydrated. Disoriented. I wanted to die — and I almost did.
The man who helped me — his name was “Owen.” Now that’s my name, too. When Owen first saw me I heard him exclaim,
“What to do? There are no hippos like this here!”
But Owen stepped in when others were scared.READ MORE
“Tom, join me in the hot tub. Let’s talk,” said Dad. Pretty cool, I thought. Hot tubbin’ with dad. A father-son chat. Why not?
And, I was due for a raise. I’d worked at Dad’s store for months. He took me on when I quit college. Dad wasn’t pleased when I bailed out of school. But he swallowed hard and gave me a job. That worked for me. READ MORE