After all this time, he's not sure if he read Lance Armstrong's book before his kidney was taken out or after, before the cancer spread to his lungs or later, before his doctors said to get his papers in order or not.
"I just remember admiring his story,'' he said. "It helped to hear it."
Everyone knows someone close with cancer. My father, who beat cancer in way doctors can't explain, is on the phone. At some point during his fight, I sent him Armstrong's book, "It's Not About The Bike: My Journey Back to Life."
It's a human, heartfelt story of Armstrong's fight with cancer. It's part of the debate now that Armstrong is expected to step forward to confess to his cheating in cycling.
"It changes what the book was about some,'' my father said. "The book doesn't tell the whole story. But no one's perfect. I don't follow cycling. I followed his story of cancer."
This is an uncomfortable time for sports. Blood doping and performance-enhancing drugs are in the news. It's not just Armstrong. No player was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday despite perhaps the richest class in history.
No Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens. No Rafael Palmeiro, Jeff Bagwell or Sammy Sosa. They're Hall of Famers by any statistical measure. But their numbers are bloated by suspicions — and confirmation, in Palmeiro's case — of performance-enhancing drugs.
So this week is about the response to players who cheated their game. There's disapproval. There's unease. There's equal and opposite accusations of sanctimoniousness against those judging Armstrong, Bonds and Clemens.
But there's also this confirmation of upholding standards of what's acceptable in sports. It's why Hall of Fame voters closed the door to suspected steroid users. It's why Armstrong, banned from cycling, agreed to a controlled setting of an interview with Oprah on cheating.
Unfair? What's unfair, in retrospect, was Armstrong's verbal bullying and strong-arm attacks on officials, competitors, teammates and media members as he won seven Tour de France titles.
Unfortunate? That's the word Players Association Executive Director Michael Weiner labeled the voting — "unfortunate, if not sad,'' he said. And you can see that.
What would be equally unfortunate if the Steroid Six were voted into the Hall is symbolized by Fred McGriff. He hit 493 home runs. He played 18 years. He didn't have a whiff of steroid use around him.
The McGriffs of that era, in effect, then would be penalized by not taking steroids, not hitting 500 home runs and not getting a hall pass into the Hall. My ballot read: Craig Biggio, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Mike Piazza and Larry Walker.
It's all a mess wrapped in a riddle that maybe time will solve. Maybe, by confessing, Armstrong gets the lifetime ban lifted against him in cycling. Maybe, over time, all of us sort out their thoughts on steroids and the Hall more.
"After what has been written and said over the last few years, I'm not overly surprised,'' Clemens said via Twitter of not making the Hall.
Nobody was surprised. This week was a referendum on drugs in sports. And the bottom line is most people still feel there are standards to be upheld when it comes to them.
The international cycling officials directed how people should act by banning anyone involved in illegal performance enhancement. Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has remained characteristically mute through the Hall voting.
Selig could ban anyone who tested positive for steroids from the Hall's ballot in the manner Pete Rose is banned for betting. He's happy to keep his desk clean and let the voters settle it.
Cycling isn't baseball in America, and beating cancer isn't beating the Dodgers. So Armstrong isn't Bonds or Clemens.
"His story helped me,'' my father says of Armstrong.
That's the human element to his story. This conversation will go on. Armstrong's words will be watched. And the Hall of Fame voting? In 1950, no players were elected to the Hall of Fame. In coming years, 45 of those on tht 1950 ballot were.