For some of you the celebration of Father’s Day may be bittersweet. Perhaps Dad has moved on to the other side and all that remains here in this form of consciousness are your memories and your love.
We lost Dad on May 14, 2018. I think of “Sonny” every day.
And as much as I wish he could be here today, happy and healthy, Dad fought such a long and uphill battle that would have taken out most much earlier, I take solace knowing that his fight is over and the suffering has ended.
When Dad passed, we opted to make his mass at St. Leo’s celebratory. We asked all in attendance to wear vibrant colors. We chose to give thanks to what was and not mourn what will no longer be. It was an easy choice – and the right one!
As you celebrate Dad or the memory of yours this weekend, I hope you do so with a smile. And before I sign off, I wanted to share something very personal – it was part of my eulogy during Dad’s celebration. Perhaps in some way it connects with you and eases the missing a bit.
Happy Father’s Day!
The Final Greeting Card
Many times, over the years, I’ve given you greeting cards that included words written from my heart. The words brought you tears of joy. You understood the sincerity in which they were delivered and the depth of emotion from which they were born.
You earned those words Pop. Your selflessness, wisdom, love and kindness have always inspired me, so really, you only have yourself to blame for the many misty Christmas Eves we’ve shared.
I wish we had one more.
But since we don’t, I’ll share this one last card Pop. It isn’t easy, and it’s the one that I’ve dreaded for a long time. Yet somewhere, somehow, I know you will hear these words…
Your journey has been a beautiful one – but one that was not free of adversity. You always taught me to take your lumps, collect yourself, learn from your mistakes, move on and be better for the setbacks. The adversity is a gift. It’s all in your perspective.
I will forever hear one of your favorite clichés, “I can’t complain, nobody listens anyway.” And despite a million reasons to do so, you NEVER complained.
Remember that kids’ program, “Thomas the Tank Engine”? It should have been called, “SONNY the Tank Engine”. You were a tank Pop. A freaking locomotive!
You were born with rheumatic fever; you later spent 6 months in the hospital as a five-year old; nearly drowned saving your brother’s life as an 11-year old; understood what a good father should do despite not having one of your own; overcoming two completely clogged carotid arteries while aneurysms clung to your aorta; bypass surgery; multiple TIA’s; bladder cancer; removal of your bladder; emergency surgery for a nicked bowel; emasculating urostomy bags; gall bladder removal; two significant strokes; dementia; and sundowner’s.
You fought through it all without a single complaint – without an ounce of self-pity. Without once saying, “Why me?” Instead you remained steadfast in your belief that you were a lucky man – because of the family and friends that loved you.
But then the big one came along Pop – something you didn’t deserve. Something that finally broke through that seemingly unbreakable tank of yours. I know you tried to win that battle. A man like you never quits. You fought for all those who love you – you never wanted to let anyone down. You couldn’t. Not even if you tried. We prayed for you to let go…and you did so, peacefully.
Today, I’m sad Pop. I’m pretty sure that I’ll be sad for a while. My heart is broken and I miss you. But in a New York minute I happily accept this pain, because now, you are free of yours. You are home.
Don’t worry about us. Just like you’ve taught me with your words and your actions, adversity has its value, IF you find the silver lining. You and Mom always said, that when the two of you are gone, Ronni and I would have each other. I didn’t think it was possible, but when you joined Mom, it brought your children even closer together. Our friends and family…their collective colors are shining through like a brilliant rainbow. Their love carries me, it overwhelms me in great ways, and many are closer than ever before…another gift from you.
So just like you taught me Pop, I’m finding the good in something that isn’t.
But I still miss you…
Until I see you on the other side, I want to thank you for so much.
Thank you for the sacrifices you made to give us all a happy life.
Thank you for the lessons – they are part of your legacy that I promise to pass on.
Thank you for your willingness to listen without judging. Your sensibility and wisdom were unparalleled.
Thank you for your laugh…it was infectious. As a youngster, I remember you watching stand-up comics and laughing at jokes I didn’t understand. But I laughed along with you, because your laugh made ME laugh.
Thank you for the summers when I worked with you. You told me that through the grind of physical labor I should learn that it wasn’t something that I should do for a living. Given that such physical labor was the way you supported us, I never forgot those words Pop…words of selflessness.
Thank you for taking the time to play ball with me. I know how tired you were each day after work, yet you still took the time to play catch – challenge me with knuckleballs and towering pop ups.
Thank you for being a buddy at all the Ravens games…and a constant member of our foursome whenever we took to the golf course.
Thank you for showing me the way.
And most of all thank you for loving my Mom the way you did. It was THAT love that provided our family with the comfortable blanket of security. As Ronni pointed out to me, we had you for 28 years since Mom’s passing. It’s now her time. Enjoy what I know will be an epic reunification with your bride.
We certainly had ourselves a time…didn’t we Pop?
But now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta go. It’s time to celebrate… it’s time to celebrate YOU and your love, courage, grace and style. And I know that’s EXACTLY what you would have wanted all of us to do today.
I’m not saying goodbye…I’ll simply say, as you said many times, “See you later!”
And I will…