Good man

24 November, 2012    Good man

Over a month since the race, over a month since my last entry. 2012 is unforgettable. I’ve gotten a few pictures I’ve enjoyed. I’ve been gazing a little bit more intently at the river than usual. It’s always lovely. These shots, like the river,  are always different and always perfect:


True story – you can’t make this stuff up. I pointed the camera up at a passing train 2 minutes later. All the way across the river. I went home and looked at the picture on my computer:

I was feeling bad – seriously – and looked up and a coal train was passing by with this scrawled on the side of a car. Wild.

Crazy. Of course it feels pretty good to look at it like this too:

This makes you feel better too.

I had the pleasure of dog-sitting my friend Pat and Megan’s dogs Luna (smiling at the camera) and Lola (brown, back to the camera) a short time ago. Mackey was with us too, also with his back to the camera; Turner was dashing around:

Mackey, Luna, Lola, me, and the incomparable James River

Evie and I got down to the river to give thanks on Thanksgiving morning. This may be the only way to keep Turner from dashing around:

So much to give thanks for

Speaking of dashing around, I’ve mentioned before I have a cat named Dash. Although he has undeniably dashing good looks, he doesn’t dash around much. And if the window is open and your papers are blowing away, he is unsurpassed as a paperweight:

“Dash,” a.k.a. “Basket Case,” a.k.a. “Paperweight”

And now the most unforgettable experience in a life that’s been full of them:

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Good man

My Dad died at home on Tuesday, November 20, a couple of days before Thanksgiving. To our relief, his passing was swift and painless. Dad’s full obituary is here: Warren M. “Mike” McLaughlin

I started to title this “Dog man,” because Dad was a dog man. Way more than I am. I changed the title to “Family man,” because he was the purest family man I’ve ever known. I am so fortunate. I settled on “Good man,” because that’s enough.

All the words on this whole internet are insufficient to describe what my Dad means to me and to everyone in our family. I won’t try. I’ll put in a few pictures I enjoy and that’s enough. The first is with our entire family. We hadn’t been photographed together since the 1970’s. We used a tripod and took this picture 22 days before he died. He’s happy because he’s surrounded by his family. Only one dog in the picture at that time, but there were four in the house.

All of us together, October 28, 2012 – what a priceless gift.

This picture is of Dad and Mom at their house with their dog Lucky (RIP), taken years ago.

Mom and Dad with Lucky, July 15, 2000

This is a favorite. Dad and I were hiking at Pony Pasture with his dog Tara in the winter of 2010. That’s a dog man right there. I love this picture:

Dad and Tara, Pony Pasture, February, 2010.

Another one I love. This is Dad with Tara in my living room. See how they are together? You can’t really explain it, you can never see the essence of it, but that’s what it looks like when people connect with dogs. Dad really, really, really knew how to do that:

See? You can’t really explain it, but that’s what it looks like. Automatic.

I don’t know who took this one, or even where it was. The dog is Rica, a big, beautiful German Shepherd we used to have. I’m reasonably certain Dad never saw a single stock car race in his life, so I have no idea about the origin of this picture. See how alert and animated and happy she is? What a beautiful picture:

Dog man.

You can probably sense why I don’t want to end this post. But unlike the river, posts end. Ask me any time – any time – and I’ll tell you a story about my Dad. I have an endless supply.

If you met Dad, I know you grieve with us. If you never met him, I wish you had. But I hope my brothers and sisters and I reflect at least a glimpse into our superb upbringing.

All best,

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = `

About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Dogs, Fun, People, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), Trains. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Good man

  1. Sweet and touching. I hope the pain of loss fades in time. Great photos.

    • Thanks for the note Josh. Sorry you dropped in on this particular post. This my 84th post over 1.5+ years and is the only one with this tone. Please look back and enjoy some of the old ones if you have a few moments. Thank you for your kind words and have a great day,


  2. Jay, I am so sorry to hear about your dad. I met him once or twice and he always seemed “larger than life” to me. I know he loved you very much and was so proud of you! You are an amazing man and I am sure that your dad had something to do with that! Hang in there. Om Shanthi

    • okilloran says:

      P.S. The message “Feel better” on that passing train could have been from your dad, you know! Just an interesting thought!

      • Thanks Patti. You and Dad and I are all fortunate that we crossed paths. And Dad was always larger than life to me. Always. A friend met Dad a few years ago and we all spent the day together. After we left my friend said “I think your Dad just started reading the entire internet – for the second time.” That graffiti on the train was incredible. What are the odds. Anyway, thanks for the note and have a great day, I look forward to talking with you soon,


        PS Dr. Z and all my friends, both residents and employees, at TOL have been amazingly supportive. Great place.

  3. Ed says:

    Jay: very sorry to hear of your dad’s passing… My heart goes out to you and you’d family.

    • Thanks for the note Ed – I appreciate your reaching out. I am fortunate to be surrounded by a superb family. You may be amused to know that my 77 y.o. mother is probably currently at her local YMCA swimming a mile. We are all aware of the therapeutic value of that. Thanks again for the note and have a great day,


  4. Sue Miner says:

    Jay, so sorry to hear about the loss of your dad. May the happy memories you have of time together help you get through this time. I know you will miss him!

    • Thanks for getting in touch Sue. Right now I miss him every minute; in time that will fade to every hour, and I can look forward to only missing him every day. But among the many qualities he left our family with, we are a very resilient group. And we have wonderful friends like you – thanks again and I look forward to seeing you soon,


  5. Barbara Mann says:

    Jay– Know that you are very present in my thoughts and prayers as you go through this most difficult time. How blessed he was to have you as his son! And how very blessed you are to have had so many years with your father! Please take extra good care of yourself.


    • Hi Barbara,
      And thank you for your kind words, and for helping me again as you’ve helped me through other difficult times in my life. I am blessed to have the family I have, and all that goes with it. Thanks again for the note and I’ll talk with you soon,



  6. Alex says:


  7. Thanks Alex! And speaking of beautiful, your beautiful dog and I took a beautiful walk together this morning! I think there’s going to be a picture of her on my next blog post. Have a great day and I’ll talk with you soon,


  8. Cris Leonard says:

    hi jay –
    hope you are doing well, sir. as usual, your column above is great reading. what meaningful reflections, jay. you know that i did not know your mom and pop well. i met them on just a few occasions (thats not the same as really knowing someone) and truly enjoyed some conversations with mike. very, very impressive guy. i will miss him. you and your brothers & sisters will always be a great indication of his character and personality. it is probably an undeniable success when his friends, and your friends, remark – “he raised great kids”. mine is a belated reply, jay. please enjoy world class memories. all the best to you and family.

  9. Ed Vinter says:

    Hi Jay,
    I was thinking of your family and after a little hunting, found your blog. Sadly, I saw this post. I’m very sorry for your loss. When I think of your dad, the cabin, his old dog Cassie and his love of puns comes to mind. When I went over for the first Gulf War, he sent me a really thoughtful letter that I very much appreciated. Hope your mom, Shane and the rest of the family are doing okay.
    Ed V

    • Hi Ed!
      Thanks for the note – great to hear from you. Like you, when I think of my dad I think of the cabin, his old dog Cassie and his love of puns. I also think of the way he loved to reach out to people, and I thank you for letting me know about the letter he wrote. Mom, Shane and the rest of the family are doing well. Shane’s getting married in August! Thanks again for the note and have a great day,


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