Alfred “Ted” Moynihan, the retired veteran Record-Journal sports writer and columnist, passed away Friday. He was 81.
His son Mark reached out to me early that afternoon, then his daughter Mary.
“Thank you for always checking in to see how he was doing, and thank you to the Record-Journal for giving Dad a second chapter in his life,” Mary wrote. “He loved sports. He loved Wallingford. And he loved his Record-Journal family.”
So I tried to write back.
My condolences, Mary.
I don’t mean to upset you and I struggle for words to say.
But you seem a lot like your dad, who liked hearing it straight.
So I’m going to talk directly to your dad and, if you want, you can listen in ....
Ted, first and foremost, I’m just flat-out sad you’re gone. It’s just as well it’s started to rain. It matches my mood.
To cheer myself up I say, “Well, Ted, at least you’re not missing out on a good day for golf.”
It’s OK to just half laugh. That’s all I mustered, too.
Truth be told, I’ve been upset about what befell you long before Friday, long before that day Mary told me what it was.
At first, hearing “Executive Functioning Disorder” and hearing it explained brought a strange relief, because it made sense of everything that had been building for a while. You had been retired for a couple of years, but still stringing for us, and there was that night you came back from a football game at Muzzy Field and, by deadline, had only a few paragraphs written.
“Man, that’s not Ted.”
I knew something wasn’t right and, of course, so did you, and the struggles only got worse.
But I still kept calling to offer assignments and you kept saying, “Sure, Bry” because neither of us wanted to ... what? Give in? Give up?
What was Friday night football without Ted? What was the Travelers Championship?
Why did anything have to change? Retirement is just a word. That’s Ted Moynihan, our Teddy Ballgame, the face of Record-Journal sports, the guy still getting mail at the office.
Another Travelers would come around. “Ted,” I’d say, “you’re my guy as long as you want to be.”
I’ve long wondered since if I did you harm, setting you up for frustration and failure. It was obviously the last thing I intended.
My hunch is it would have been more upsetting to you if I had bailed on you. Because you weren’t ready to give in, were you?
May we all be so tenacious as we decline.
And decline we must, though you declined too soon.
You should be enjoying your grandkids with Fran, clear-headed as a bell, and still covering Friday night football and the Travelers, because you can bet I’d still be dialing your number. Too many kids can’t write a lick these days and our golf coverage has never been the same since you left.
Funny, I always think of you when I see a golf cart — and I see a lot of them. There are three golf courses literally within a two-mile radius of my house.
There’s comfort in that, and the thought that you’re up on the Big Fairway, hitting every green in regulation and knocking down every birdie putt and collecting every skin and then, on 19, telling anyone who cares to listen, “Well, folks, Mrs. Moynihan didn’t raise a fool.”
There. That’s cheered me up. You belong outside, with your clipboard and a 9-iron and that Panama hat with the black band. Not cooped up. Not confused.
So I guess there’s relief, thinking you’re back to your old self.
I do believe that, you know? That when you go, you don’t just go to heaven, you go to the happiest time in your life.
Did I ever tell you that the summer after our friend Rob Szymaszek passed away, I was in Italy, in Assisi, up on that windy hill amid St. Francis and the tombs and the swoop and swirl of a billion birds, not thinking about Rob at all when, clear as the day, I heard him call.
It wasn’t the voice of dying Rob. It wasn’t the sideline roar of Coach Smaz in full health. It was teenage Rob, all excited, as if I’d just shown up in his driveway to lift weights at a captains’ practice.
So that’s how I see Rob: forever the golden boy in late summer sunshine, mom and dad close by, beaming just as bright.
I see a lot of sun for you, too, Ted, and one hell of a suntan.
But, for today, you’re gone and it’s raining and I’m going to stay sad awhile to pay you proper respect because, from me, you always had it.
You sat to my right before you retired and you were indeed a right-hand man, with big old mitts that I loved to fist-bump because they were like anvils.
You knew who to talk to, you had all the phone numbers and the coaches all trusted you.
I couldn’t tell you anything you didn’t already know and you didn’t miss a word of any conversation even when you were playing solitaire on your computer, waiting for the words for your columns to sort themselves out in your head.
If you peered over your cheater specs long enough and shifted around the cards just right and sipped enough coffee out of that Food Bag cup you never threw away, the words would fall into line.
Maybe some folks thought you were fooling around. I didn’t. I knew.
And I know even more right now.
I’ll catch you in the sun.
From Ted’s obituary: Due to the ongoing pandemic, a memorial Mass will be celebrated in safer times at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Yalesville. Donations in his memory can be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, CT Chapter, 200 Executive Blvd, S4B, Southington, 06489; The American Cancer Society, 825 Brook Street, Rocky Hill, 06067 or Usher’s Syndrome Coalition, 63 Great Road, Suite 207, Maynard, Mass., 01754. For online condolences visit www.wallingfordfh.com.