Rozner: Goldis a father who sees only blessings

  • Al Goldis, a veteran baseball scout for several teams, including the White Sox and Cubs, has been spending a lot of time with his son Josh. who battled a brain tumor.

    Al Goldis, a veteran baseball scout for several teams, including the White Sox and Cubs, has been spending a lot of time with his son Josh. who battled a brain tumor. Photo courtesy of Al Goldis

  • Al Goldis, who missed time with his family while he worked as a baseball scout, now enjoys every moment he can get with his children. Here he is enjoying a moment with his son, Josh.

    Al Goldis, who missed time with his family while he worked as a baseball scout, now enjoys every moment he can get with his children. Here he is enjoying a moment with his son, Josh. Photo couresty of Al Goldis

 
 
Updated 6/16/2018 2:22 PM

We are all tested in our lives, the times when we ask questions to which there are no answers.

The times when we wonder how this can happen, how that is possible. The times when we ask, simply, why?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Al Goldis is a man of great faith and you will likely meet few people in your life with more belief.

This is a man who volunteers his time at a mortuary, helping prepare bodies for burial in a religious ceremony. He believes it is one of life's grand decencies because the deceased can never offer thanks.

But he has had more than his portion in life, and he feels no shame in admitting that he is sometimes less than certain.

"I've asked questions that I don't know the answer to," says the 76-year-old Goldis. "When things get tough, that's when you have to have faith in the hereafter.

"You have to believe that the big umpire has a plan, but it's very tough sometimes."

You probably remember Goldis as the scouting director who drafted Frank Thomas, Jack McDowell, Alex Fernandez and Robin Ventura for the White Sox, and he scouted the trade that brought Sammy Sosa and Wilson Alvarez to the White Sox from Texas for Harold Baines.

He also drafted Kerry Wood for the Cubs and, among others, found Devon White and Dante Bichette for the Angels.

Throughout all those years, Goldis met with more heartache than any person should have to endure in a lifetime.

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His first wife, Marlene, was a 37-year-old English teacher when she was driving her children to school one morning in 1981, and lost control of the car for a brief moment.

"I was scouting Robby Thompson in Florida and I came back from a ballgame and she said a funny thing happened today," Goldis said. "That night her hands were shaking.

"We went to the doctor the next day and had the tests, and the doctor came in the next day and said she had brain cancer and lung cancer and might not live a year."

Marlene died six weeks later.

When his oldest daughter, Randi, was a senior in high school, her car was hit by a drunken driver who had no license and no insurance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"She died at the scene and they brought her back. She was in a coma for a month," Goldis remembers. "They said, 'Maybe she'll be able to feed herself someday.'

"She spent 18 months in rehab. Now, she's an occupational therapist giving back for what all the people did for her while she was recovering."

His youngest son, Eric, had a major heart valve replaced last year, though it wasn't a surprise. He was born with a hole in his heart and had a valve replaced at 4 years old.

His second wife, Linda, was on kidney dialysis for years, until they found a match. She received a kidney transplant from her stepdaughter.

And that brings us to the here and now, and Goldis' oldest son, Josh.

A 45-year-old attorney, and something of a genius, Josh was getting headaches in March, the result -- he assumed -- of a sinus condition and allergies.

"We went to a specialist and he said there was nothing wrong with the sinus, but said Josh needed an MRI immediately," Goldis said. "That's when we found the brain tumor."

They traveled from Sarasota to Miami to meet with one of the best surgeons in the world, who removed 40 percent of the tumor, not wanting to take more and risk injury to vital sections of the brain.

Josh just finished the latest round of radiation and chemotherapy, and after an MRI in a few days to track the tumor, he will likely face a more severe round of chemo.

Later this month, he will travel to Duke to participate in a special study at a university that is considered the epicenter of such work.

"Josh is doing great," Goldis said. "He's not in pain, thank God. He walks 4 to 5 miles a day. Every day that he gets up and he's OK, it's a good day."

Quietly, through it all has been Jerry Reinsdorf, who employed Goldis some 30 years ago on the South Side.

"Whenever something has happened in my life, Jerry has always been there. It's amazing because I don't even know how he finds out, but he always does," Goldis laughed, remembering it was Reinsdorf who convinced Josh to go to law school, and stay in law school when he hated it. "He's absolutely unbelievable.

"He always says, "Anything I can do. You need doctors or whatever, we'll get it.' He calls all the time, trying to get Josh to come to Chicago.

"People will never know about the things Jerry does for people. He tries to be macho, but the truth is he's a very sensitive, empathetic man."

The outlook for Josh is very good, but his father is not ignoring the gift he has been given this year.

Yes, he sees it as a gift.

"I only see today," Goldis said. "If Josh is happy, if he's going out with a friend, then I'm having a good day.

"The silver lining is we're spending more time together. We share. We laugh. We talk about life.

"Each day I look at what he is, who he is and what he's done. People love this guy. He has so many friends, four or five people a day taking him around shopping or to doctors.

"I look at him and cherish every day. Every day is Father's Day if he's OK and feels good. He's fighting and giving this all he has.

"I was away a lot scouting when he was a kid. I used to take him on road trips with me after Marlene died, but in a crazy way I'm spending more time with him now than ever and I cherish this time.

"He has so many friends and we have so many people who care. We're not alone. I can't imagine someone with no one. I can't imagine what they do.

"We're blessed, truly blessed."

Al Goldis doesn't need a day noted on the calendar to celebrate life, but this Father's Day means just a little bit more than most. He won't waste a minute of it.

And he wouldn't hesitate to remind any of us to do precisely the same.

brozner@dailyherald.com

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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