SNOHOMISH – Greg Piland wore a Seattle Thunderbirds jersey, which seemed odd for the new public-address voice of the Everett Silvertips.
He explained that he was about to go do some work outside.
“And I’m going to get it really, really dirty,” he said, grinning.
Piland, 21, had just finished his first weekend in the announcing biz. Friday, Saturday and Sunday was the Silvertips Preseason Tournament. Piland, a rank beginner, said Saturday and Sunday were better after a rough debut.
He must have had a great teacher.
“The best,” Piland agreed.
The teacher is Greg’s father, Dave Piland. Good luck trying to tell their voices apart. Dave, 43, is known for a rumbling baritone that could break glass when he decides to let it loose. The genes reached his son.
The teacher, however, is largely silent now. He has fought brain cancer for 23 months. He sleeps a great deal of the time at home, downstairs, in his hospital bed. He hasn’t eaten in several days. His motor skills are all but gone, deteriorated to the extent that he bit through his tongue several days ago.
On this day, Monday, he rested, except for the times his wife, Lisa, woke him briefly to administer pain medication. Semi-awake, Dave’s eyes stared blankly, He said nothing. Then he resumed sleeping.
It’s generally agreed that these are Dave Piland’s last days with us. Still, Lisa refuses to give in.
“I will never quit,” she said, eyes welling with tears while she emphasized each word. “I’ll never lose hope that God will come down to us and heal him.”
Sobs gushed forth in choking bursts.
“I love him so much,” she said. “He’s such a good man.”
Speculation is that Dave badly wanted to see daughter Crissy turn 12, which happened Friday. That accomplished, the new goal is to make it past Wednesday, the Pilands’ 25th wedding anniversary.
“I’d rather he didn’t go on our 25th,” Lisa said. “After that, then maybe.”
Family has arrived, including Dave’s mother, Carolyn. Friends filter in every day. One routinely brings freshly baked brownies and cinnamon rolls. Another, who writes on a Web site to inform readers of Dave’s condition, came for a visit. Others gather weekly for Bible study with Dave. The house is frequently full.
Lisa Piland wouldn’t have it any other way. A bright and breezy mother of four, her unending faith has much to do with her apparently inexhaustible energy. Months ago, friends turned the family basement into a comfortable gathering room so that the Pilands could eat dinner together and surround Dave with loved ones. The room is where the family spends almost all its time.
“It’s one of many blessings we’ve had,” Lisa said.
Lisa, sons T.J. and Greg, along with a hospice nurse, take turns tending to Dave’s needs during the night. The division of labor leaves time and energy to receive visitors.
“I’m a people person,” Lisa said. “I love having people around. It’s something I need. One of the ways it helps is that it passes the time. Not everybody is like that, but that’s the way I am.”
Family friend Lori Moak-Kean recently spoke on the phone with Katie Piland, 9. They talked of Katie’s visit to the Evergreen State Fair and about getting ready for school.
Then Moak-Kean asked Katie how her father was feeling.
“I don’t want Daddy to die,” she said.
“I don’t either,” Moak-Kean said, “but God probably needs his help in Heaven.”
Once Piland arrives, voice again at full strength, God won’t have any trouble hearing him.
Sports columnist John Sleeper: email@example.com