COLUMN: Perry Bergson — May 14, 2012

Perry Bergson
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I’m choosing the day after we celebrated mothers to puzzle over the complex, confusing and ultimately life-changing relationship between fathers and sons.

It’s been a topic rattling around my brain a lot lately for a very good reason.

On May 5, my dad was inducted into the Manitoba Softball Hall Of Fame in the all-around category.

In my mind, it’s a more prestigious honour than being inducted solely as a player. In the all-around category, your entire body of work is examined.

Your time as a player is important, but given equal weight is your work as a builder and organizer.

I would suggest it’s easier to shine solely on the diamond than in your every dealing on and off it.

A great player makes the sport look great. A great organizer makes the sport.

In many ways — entirely to my credit — we’re versions of the same guy.

My dad was delighted at the banquet that we both showed up in blue suits with light blue shirts and ties with dark blue patterns on them.

We’re both about six feet, reasonably natural athletes and hyper organized.

The two of us are also counted on again and again to put events together because we possess a passion for the job and an eye for detail.

Last spring, I was surprised by an honour in Brandon. I was given one of Healthy Brandon’s Power To Inspire awards for my work in the triathlon community.

While I wasn’t sure I had earned it, I was stunned by the outpouring of support and affection that followed the announcement.

It resonated with my dad, who had earned a nod many years ago as volunteer of the year in Portage la Prairie, the Manitoba city of 13,000 that I grew up in.

He would tell you the same thing that I would. You never volunteer with the thought that you might profit later on; you volunteer because everyone should find a way to leave the world around them a little better place.

I owed a debt to the triathlon world for the help that I was given prior to my first race and it was important to me that I pay it back.

In his remarks after receiving the award at the Hall of Fame banquet, he touched on my pastime and even referenced the remarks that I made after being honoured.

It was a nice moment.

Like many sons, I often failed to understand his motivations as a young man. Only with the benefit of a little experience and wisdom was I able to see that he had invariably been right about most everything.

The tables turned a few years ago.

I think it’s fair to suggest that he didn’t understand the impulse to do triathlon, especially when I did an Ironman in 2008.

There’s a lot of suffering in a race that includes a 3.8-km swim, a 180-km bike and a 42.2-km run. And I’m not sure he liked that I put myself into what can be a very, very dark place for such a length of time.

But he understood the work ethic and appreciated the will it takes to do an Ironman.

I know he’s proud of the accomplishment, just as I’m proud of his.

And he's also proud of my new life in Prince Albert; I'm eager to share it with both of my folks when they visit.

No matter what remains for me, I've been lucky.

I have a wealth of friends representing every era of my life and they include a good number of truly amazing people.

I’ve been blessed in ways that I’ll spend a lifetime deciphering. Each of the three most important people in my life — my wife, my mom and my dad — have given me gifts that I can’t hope to repay.

All three have endured my redhead's temper, forgiven my mistakes and patiently stood by me at times as I lost my footing. They've also shared in my triumphs.

But for every father and every son who have found a way to navigate through the misunderstandings, there's a special bond. For the son, it's trying to live up to what seem like impossible standards.

We've done different things and lived different lives, but that's OK.

I’m not sure that fathers and sons are meant to take each other’s paths step for step. The similarities nourish the bond but the differences add the spice.

While the paths may ultimately find their way to the same destination, the lives have to be our own.

But on that one night in May in Brandon, standing beside the most important man in my life in an identical blue suit, it seemed like one of fate’s wonderfully good-natured pranks.

The shirts and the suits nearly matched. But it's the ties that bind.

Organizations: Ironman

Geographic location: Brandon, Portage la Prairie, Manitoba

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