20903 days

4 October 1935 to 26 December 1992. 57 years, 2 months, 22 days. 20903 days. Almost 21,000 sunrises and sunsets, almost 750 full moons, 57 steelhead seasons. 6 children; 13076 days sharing the planet with one of them, me. It seems too short, it was too short, but still…thousands of days and millions of moments, and it was a good run for a man I’m proud to call father.

To you, old man.


Jim of the strong hands,
Son of William and Carilda,
Husband to Darlene,
Killer of fish,
Digger of clams,
Railroad laborer and whistlepunk,
Water color artist,
Generous friend,
Pumper of gas,
Perpetual romantic,
Diesel mechanic,
Water meter reader,
Dreamer of far Barsoom,
Hunter of chanterelles,
Dark humored laughing joker,
Faultless navigator,
Immortal young strider through the cathedral forests of the Cascades,
Master caster and patient angler,
Fruit picker,
Fierce labor unionist,
Broad-shouldered carrier of children,
Inventor, Tinkerer,
Irreverent, profane, good man,

And to all the good men who go into the dark after lives of earnest toil and dedication to family, forgotten except for the spark they leave to their children. Their contributions never seem to make it into the history books, but they and the mothers are the ones who build the world we live in.

They were 20903 good days, precious, every one.


  1. Wowbagger, Designated Snarker says

    Well said, PZ. I’m so glad there are people out there who – unlike me – had good relationships with their fathers.

  2. The Mellow Monkey says

    ::raises glass:: To loving parents who leave us far too soon.

    My father removed himself from life when I was fourteen and yet not a day goes by that I don’t think of him still.

  3. carlie says

    What a beautiful tribute. From what you’ve said of your childhood, your parents worked long and hard for their kids, and those kids sure turned out good.

  4. Rob Grigjanis says

    That was beautiful and very moving.

    Soon after my dad died, I read No Country For Old Men. At the end of the book, Sheriff Bell has two dreams about his father. The second dream was totally unexpected, and almost too much for me at the time, but so close to how I saw dad. Lots of good days, but I wish I’d known him better.

  5. brucegee1962 says

    I’ve been thinking about how the pitters constantly refer to PZ as “unmanly.” I’d be genuinely interested in knowing what their definition of a “manly” man is, other than just being a jerk. Is it involved in having lots of one-night stands? Being impervious to empathy? What?

    If you want a scientific definition of “manly,” then from the point of view of the universe, the only real important things that you have to accomplish is to pass on your genes and your memes to the next generation. If you have kids but never make an effort to bring them up, or else lose custody in a divorce, then you’ve failed with the second part of your assignment. So my definition of manly would be “acting in such a way that a woman is likely to allow you to both father and help raise her children.” By those definitions, PZ and his father certainly meet the definition.

  6. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    I personally think the concept of “manliness” has gotten so thoroughly dirty and threadbare it should have been taken out and burned lifetimes ago, but whatever floats your boat I guess.

  7. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    …aaaaaand I just realized that sounds like exactly the opposite of what I was trying to express. :(

  8. Azuma Hazuki says

    That was beautiful. Wish mine were worthy of those sentiments, but such is life. You seem to be a good father too, based on what squid-daughter says and how she acts :)

  9. Black Berry says

    Thanks, PZ! I didn’t need a reminder to remember, but you got me to think about the things for which I miss my dad. There were many…and for that, I thank you again.

  10. says

    There have been a number of moving tributes to fathers today (fittingly!) and this is another stellar one. You made me tear up, PZ. My father also left us far too early. It’s been 9 years but I still miss him every single day.
    What a beautiful unique tribute to your dad – he sounded like a good man.
    Happy Father’s Day to another good man.

    And Happy Father’s Day to the amazing fathers in the horde. Knowing that there are men like you bringing up children and teenagers today gives me confidence for the future!

  11. says

    I miss my dad so much — he died in 2008. He’s the main reason I became an atheist, he’d been a non-believer since he was in college and continued in his lack of belief until the day he died. His very last email to me was about Einstein’s letter (1/3/54) against religion. He was a real Renaissance man — scientist, musician, painter, novelist, the list goes on. He loved Pharyngula, too.

  12. shelldigger says

    If half of those things can be said of me when I’m gone, I will have done well.

    Sounds like your father was a great dad, and a great man.

  13. David Marjanović says

    *assorted hugs for those who want some*

    If you want a scientific definition of “manly,” then from the point of view of the universe, the only real important things that you have to accomplish is to pass on your genes and your memes to the next generation.

    No, no, no. Complete nonsense. The universe doesn’t have eyes, a view, or a point thereof.

    Do you want a biological or a sociological definition of “manly”? In the former you won’t get far beyond androgen levels. The latter differs between cultures, and within any culture over time.

  14. says

    Your father sounds like what I strive for but always fall short. Sometimes I worry about how many kids grow up without fathers. The Arizona Republic ran a story Sunday about how the ASU football coaches have filled that role for a number of players. In one meeting, the players were asked who grew up with a father. No one raised his hand.

  15. DLC says

    Everyone has a sperm donor. lucky children have a Dad. Mine passed on from this existence nearly a year ago .

  16. richy skull says

    Hey everybody! Just stopped in to laugh at ya for a min. Too bad about the Ron Lindsay thing huh? You know its almost as if you all are a lunatic fringe considering the way no popular organization is buying into your rhetoric. Gotta give PZ props for showing up for the Brave Hero podcast with Dave Silverman. and hanging out in the chat. I must also point out how nice your head looked as it was handed back to you on a platter PZ, or was it your ass?? Eh, no matter. Pretty interesting how the organization PZ just honored with a lifetime membership is being sued for wrongful termination of a minority. How long can you keep denying the obvious and pretending no one notices all the stupid inconsistent shit tha comes out of your mouth PZ? Has anyone of you started to realize you are losing, you have been losing and you will continue to lose because you are jerks. It really is pathetic to watch but it’s fun to laugh at. Keep up the good…um…. work?