Monday, February 04, 2008

Scoutmaster Phil passes on up the Trail...

Early Monday morning my father Philip G. Neff left this world at the tender age of 79. Along with my two sisters and brothers as well as numerous other folks around this earth I would like to praise and thank him for all that he provided and shared with so many others. Our mother Jenny's life was far too short on this earth. For the last 25 years pa was our only parent- but what a fine job he did. He was a bear of a man who taught us how to survive in the woods and excel on the athletic field. Personally he taught me- not thru words- but, like Walter Payton- thru how he lived. If there was only one word to describe PGN it would be- INTEGRITY. Our father was a throwback to a generation, I fear, that will soon be sorely missed.
Unfortunately the last few months of his life were not very pleasant. Cancer and heart surgeries stole much of his strength but never his spirit. Each week my sister Monica, our family's saint in crisis called often so that her other siblings could hear his voice wherever they might be. The last words I'll ever remember him saying was in reply to our upcoming dogmushing adventures, "Keep me advised Hugh." I surely will.
Having been named after his father I've always felt a great sense of responsibility to honor the family name. Now knowing that dad isn't on the couch watching tv but is in heaven watching over all of us- my senses are even more fully aware of his presence, as well as my ma's. Lord knows what they must feel about this chicago boy's aspiration's of becoming a competent dogmusher way up north in Alaska. I know dad must be enjoying Mother Nature's lil' going away present- we're at over a foot of snow and still counting here in chi-town. As the old saying goes, "He went out with a Storm..." Luv you Dad, HHN

Please don't feel sorry for anyone, except maybe Tamra- she's been a saint holding things together back at Annie Lake - 45 below there. We've been caring for over 50 pooches, training for numerous races without a handler this year. Fortunately a few kids came to the rescue within the last few weeks to help. I return home after the funeral Monday, pick up Tamra and the Quest dawgs and then we drive to Fairbanks. Once there we'll put together Iditarod food drops, hopefully have time for a short training run and then begin the 1,000 mile Quest race. Every year people encourage us to come in 1st place. Yet over time one's philosophy changes. I'm not seeking to win a 1,000 mile event, our goal is to participate in 50 thousand mile races. This season will be our 12th and 13th since the year 2000. I can think of no better way to honor our family's spirit, my father's soul as well as that of the Dawgs and the Northland than to live this LIFE to the fullest. My prayer is that everyone sees the world in this way. It's a rollercoaster of a trail yet with focus, dedication and LOVE- anything is possible. Hopefully some of you kids have learned that by following our adventures over the last decade.
Peace be with all of you, Hugh and the Laughing Eyes Kennel Crew
p.s.: my apologies for not writing enough , promise to pick up the pace here soon. Hope all the school kids (and teachers) enjoy the show- there's nothing like it on this incredible earth of ours.