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Dear Bubba,

12 years ago today, as Bruce Hornsby’s song “Fields Of Gray” played on the overhead speakers at Swedish Hospital, I got to cut the cord and meet you for the very first time. To tell the truth, I was scared, so afraid, and a bit drunk from the 3 double Jack and Cokes I had downstairs in a local bar waiting for your arrival. Growing up, I didn’t have a dad throughout my young life, and I thought the lack of modeling would be a detriment to my ability to be your father, your friend, and someone you might look up to one day.

Though I had no idea what I was doing…

I knew one thing…

I knew after holding you in my arms, that I wasn’t going to do what my dad had done to his wife and 4 kids…

I wasn’t going to run…

But I knew I was in trouble… and knew I needed help.

Over the course of the next few years, I read books, I took classes, I sought out a therapist thanks to Mr. Ron, and I addressed my drinking, which was my way of numbing, hiding, and not showing up for myself. When you don’t show up for yourself Bubba, you can’t show up for others. No one is ever going to come save you in this life. You must have the grit, determination, fortitude, and spirituality to save yourself. It is an inside job that only you can address.

As you turn 12 today , and I turn 55 in a few days, Bruce’s song remains my prayer for you and me…

Bruce wrote “Field’s of Gray” in 1992 after finding out that he wasn’t just going to have one son…..he was about to have two!

When he and his wife Kathy brought their baby boy’s home, Bruce was feeling many of the feelings I have just shared with you….but instead of running and numbing, he sat down at his piano in his kids nursery and he wrote Russel and Keith this song… this promise… this commitment.

From “Fields of Gray”….

When the night lies so still
Before I go to sleep
I come by, I come by
Just to look at you
In the dim light I say
That in my own small way
I will try, I will try
To help you through
There’ll be blue skies falling
There’ll be bad scenes and bad dreamsIn a world so uncertain
Through the clouds it’s hard to seeI will grab you and lift you
As you hold on tight and sway
We’ll go walking
Across the fields of gray

-Bruce Hornsby

As Bruce wrote in his song, it has certainly been easier to be your father when life has presented us with blue skies…

But the calling of any parent is to be there for you when the skies turn gray.

That is the greater challenge…

When your daddy lost his job and it was printed for all the world to see in the Seattle Times and kids and teachers asked you about it at school…

When you were bullied at the same school…

When we visited Children’s many times to battle your medical issues….

When Grandpa died…

When your best friend moved away…

When Nola our first dog passed…

And when COVID hit and we became isolated just like everyone else in the world…

Those were The Fields… The Fields of Gray… and there in those fields I have shown up for you, I have walked with you, I have cried with you, prayed with you, and at times I carried you.

Because I did the work… And so I could.

I am closer to the end of my life than I am to the beginning. I pray everyday that I am here long enough to give you a good push into the world.

I want to thank you Bubba for having such a profound impact on my life…. Although I am far from a perfect parent, and I blow it at times on the daily…

I do know one thing…

I have learned to show up for myself…

And that has allowed me to show up for you.

Learning that unlocked everything for me… and as you grow up, I think it will be an important key for you as well.

One day when I am no longer here, I hope you will listen to Bruce’s song and read this….

Know that I am not far away…

Just take a walk…

And you will find me walking with you…

Walking in “The Fields of Gray”.

Happy 12th young man.

Today we celebrate the kind, thoughtful, curious, and cool little human you have become!

May this trip around the sun be full of blue skies, cool diving trips, Roblox, and lot’s of walks with your new dog Charlie….and a trip to NYC in a few short hours you don’t know about…

It is my honor today to be called your daddy.

All My Love and devotion son,

-Dad

Don O'Neill

When Don is not behind a microphone, you might find him helping clients shop for properties to buy, invest, or sell. As an active investor, Don seeks out properties for long term investments.Schedule Your Sit Don with Don today!

9 Comments

  • Deborah Shepard says:

    happy birthday g-force you are wonderful you add joy have the happiest birthday

  • Lana says:

    Don
    Such a profound and touching, raw account of your life with your son. You have done an incredible job and should be proud of the son you are raising and your impact on his life as much as he has had on yours.
    God Bless
    Lana

  • Sean Cottrille says:

    You’re an amazing individual, Don. Reading your experiences here had me on the verge of tears, and as I reflect on how I raise my two young boys, I read parallels in our parenting. It’s a daily challenge to do our best for them, and we’re not always at our best. But we show up out of love for them and an unerring responsibility to help them become the best they can be.

    Happy birthday to you and your boy.

  • Lynn says:

    Don,

    Your Happy Birthday to G-Force is beautiful, and a gift he will forever cherish.

    Happy Birthday G-Force!

    Lynn

  • Jenni says:

    Dear Don
    It may be your journey but boy oh boy has it impacted and helped so very many of us.
    Thank you for your words,
    Through the years of your little boys life you have shared so many life moments. It has made me a better person and parent to have those reminders.
    Blessings and love to you and G
    Happy Birthday G-force. You are loved

  • Joe Kenney says:

    Well said. Happy birthday G!
    Miss you guys on the airwaves!

  • Melody Tjossem says:

    What a beautiful way to wish your son a happy birthday! Enjoy the day!

  • Janie Dalton says:

    A very Happy Birthday to G-Force!!!

    I fell “in love” with your incredible Dad and Don many years ago as I listened to their radio show on KIRO. They bared their souls to all the listeners, and through that i knew they were genuine, loving and amazing people….and cared, genuinely, about people the world over. I laughed when they did and cried when they did.

    I “was there”
    *when your Dad became a Dad and I knew, with all my heart, that he was going to be the Best Dad Ever, truly! He showed his love for you daily, and we all know he will always be there for you.
    *when someone at KIRO lost sight of the best thing that ever happened to them: the Don O’Neill and Ron Upshaw show. I stopped listening to KIRO immediately, and sent them an email telling them what I thought of their action.
    *when your Dad and Ron created the podcast, I immediately joined.
    *every day to listen to their thoughts

    Learn everything your Dad teaches you, and you’ll take this world by storm! He’s the Real Deal. I

    Janie Dalton

  • Lori Morsk says:

    What love you have and I’m glad you showed up for your son.
    He will do great things with you as his dad . Happy birthday to you both.
    And I sure do miss you on my radio ride home

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