Monday, August 08, 2005

Rest in peace, Mr. Jennings

My father's favorite news anchor was ABC's Peter Jennings. The man's evening just wasn't complete until he heard the news of the day from Peter. (Dad was apparently on a first-name basis with Mr. Jennings.) When I moved back home, Dad's routine became my routine. We sat next to each other many nights, watching World News Tonight and discussing what was going on in the world. And when I took a break from college, my mother held Jennings up as an example. ("You know, Peter Jennings never graduated from college.")

Back in April, when Jennings announced he had lung cancer and had to step away from the anchor desk, I knew it bothered my father. He told me as much over the phone. He had become quite sensitive to issues of health and mortality. Knowing I surfed the internet religiously, Dad often asked me if I'd read anything about Jennings' condition. And I gave him any update I could find, no matter how slight. ("Howard Kurtz says he still goes into the office, Dad." "Oh yeah? Huh. I wonder when he'll be back?") Even when Dad found himself in the hospital six weeks later, he was still tuning in and still wondering where his nightly news buddy was. The last time I saw my dad smile, he was watching World News Tonight as I walked into his hospital room. I took it as a good sign. The man was getting back into his routine.

Dad would've been sad to find out about Peter Jennings' passing yesterday. I'm sad about it, too. Mr. Jennings, wherever you guys are, I hope you'll have a chance to chat with my dad. He's a big fan, and I know he's got a lot of stuff he wants to ask you.