Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Note to All the Fathers, including Myself

 Happy Fathers Day to all the fathers that are reading this. I want us to remember the Ultimate Sacrafice that the Brothers of FDNY, Boston Fire and the Charleston Fire Depts. suffered this Father's Day Weekend. June 17,2001, three FFs from FDNY perished in what was to be known as "The Fathers Day Fire". Thank you to Steve for the memories and pictures In Boston, June 17,1972 the "Hotel Vendome Fire" claimed the lives of nine of Boston's bravest. Here is a link to details of the fire . Lastly on June 18,2007, there was "The Charleston Nine",who perished while fighting a fire at The Sofa Super Store . Prayers and thoughts go out to the families and especially the children that lost Fathers at these tragedies.
 You may be asking why I am starting this post with such somber news. This is to illustrate that any day might be your last and not to take things for granted.

This past week I have had the chance to talk with some friends about Fathers Day and one theme kept comming up...remorse. It seems that many of us never were very close to our own dads for different reasons. One friend told me the story of his father. His dad had been cheating on his mom and had left her heartbroken to marry a woman ten years younger than himself. What was once a happy family was left in tatters. Even though my friend tried to reconcile quite a few times it was all in vain. Cards that were sent for various holidays, his birthday and fathers day were returned by the"new" wife, further widening the gap between father and son. By his dad's own choice he missed out on his grandchildren, great grandchildren and never got to really know my buddy. Then the call came from his mom..."your father has passed". All my friend has now to remember his father is a handful of old photos and a gnawing void of what could have been. A sad ending to a sad story. Not wanting to follow in his dad's footsteps, he is very involved in the lives of his kids and grandkids.

Another friend told me about his relationship with his father, I began to wonder if we grew up in the same house. As far back as I can remember, my dad was always there for me. He was hard working and always was trying to better himself and provide more for his family. He coached my teams in various sports, took me to games at Shea Stadium, the Football and Baseball halls of fame,to museums and even the drag races. We went to (and hosted) family reunions yearly. The importance of family was instilled upon me from day one, thanks Dad. Another thing I am grateful for is that I was introduced to differnt cultures and various cuisines. We moved alot when I was growing up and the NY to Texas trip happened three times. Was it hard moving and making new friends? For me, not really..I am not exactly shy around others and this was a great life lesson that I continue to use every day. Well, time marched on as did my dad...I was now married and starting a family and my dad continued to move upward in his career which entailed a move to the Dallas area, then Atlanta before finally settling down in Tampa. "Settling down" did not mean just sitting around and maybe playing a round of golf or two a week. Dad was involved in many civic and fraternal organizations along with being very involved in the Catholic Church. As oft times before, he was never satisfied at the local level and soon took positions on the State level of different organizations. Always the leader, a pillar in the community and the corner stone that held things together. But like these objects, he was not one to show many emotions (he would have been a hell of a firefighter in that respect), the words "i love you" didn't come until later in his life. As he got older he started to mellow and began to open up a little more, dare I say it was like he was letting his  gaurd down, ever so slowly. Then came the news that dad had cancer and the prognosis was not good. That's when the emotions really started to come. Just talking to him on the phone he would sometimes get sentimental and start to cry. Mom got on the phone and said it was the chemo and the cocktail of drugs that they were giving him, was it? I began to wonder. I did get to see my dad before he died and knew things were  not good. Gone was the man that was always so independent and always in charge. The clincher was when he would ask me to drive him to the store or a visit to the clinic to see his doctor. I never, ever remember my dad asking for help, he was always the one that was helping others.  Cancer had taken a toll, as did the chemo and radiation and dad became another casuality to this dreaded disease. It has been over two years since my dad passed and I miss him alot. Happy Fathers Day dad, love ya and wish you were here to see your great grandkids.

My own ordeal with cancer has opened my eyes to many things. No longer do I take things for granted and cherish the time I get to spend with my kids and grandkids. I can only offer this bit of advice and you can take it for what it is worth...To the Dads, love your kids and be a part of their lives, who knows what is around the next corner of your life. And to those who still have a dad around, put away any petty crap that you and your dad have gone through. Don't be like so many others that never say "I love you dad", till its too late and he can no longer hear you...

Happy Fathers Day Dads, here is someting to enjoy, I think I heard everyone of them...

style='visibility:hidden;width:0px;height:0px;' width='0'/>