Friday, June 6, 2014

For My Dad.

I suppose this Blog, really should just be for the Nutrition (or lack there of) and the Workouts I'm doing, and my ATTEMPTS, albeit poor, at humor. blah, blah, blah.

As for writing it. Or typing it. I guess there is something about it that is therapeutic. Writing a bunch of stuff, that people I have never met before are reading. Well, "could be" reading.

Typically, I write a Blog entry the following day after I've done something. And, Typically, I try to add some sort of humor to it. At least, something I think is funny anyway.

I also try to be honest and stay sort of personal with it. BUT, then again, NOT personal. Despite me turning out blog entries for the past few months or so, I really consider myself a private person.

However, my Dad passed away a year ago this month.

It doesn't really get easier. I guess you just learn to live with it.

Four years ago, I lost a friend of mine who was like a little brother to me. There's rarely a day or hour that passes that I don't think of him. Or something that happens, that reminds of him. A joke. A laugh. A sound. Maybe it's a coincidence. Maybe it's him trying to tell me he's still there for me. I like to believe it is the latter.

In retrospect, I think I started writing this blog at first, really to just keep myself going with the workouts. AND, to entertain, well...myself.

Then, when I WAS finally able to keep myself going, I guess, maybe I wanted to show people that if a lazy Couch Potato Bum like myself could do it. Anybody could. We are all struggling to keep going and moving forward in some way. Some of us, more than others. Me, in particular. But, the reality is, we all can get through it.

Maybe the same can be said for this particular entry and losing somebody we love. To some degree, we are all struggling with it.

A year later. I'm a 32 year old guy, who just misses his Dad.

So, if I'm writing blog after blog about all the mundane unimportant stuff I'm doing. I really wanted to at least write one with some meaning about my dad. To me, I think it would feel weird to have 3 separate blog entries about German Potato Soup, but nothing about my Dad.

I wrote the words below for the Eulogy which I read at his Viewing.

It's impossible to sum up the life of my Dad in just words. My Dad's life, was a life of actions. He was always upbeat, always encouraging and always ready to lend a hand. My Dad was my Hero.

Growing up, I suppose, every kid thinks their Dad is perfect. It is only as we grow older, that we start to take notice of certain faults and imperfections. However, I can say, with all honesty, after 31 years, my Dad was still perfect. Except for two things. He left us way too soon...and he spoiled the end of LOST for me.

Just by knowing my Dad, and seeing what a great and special person he was, He made you want to be a better person too.

Though, even on my best day, I'm not the person my Dad was, every day of his life. But, I'm giving it my best. And, I know that is all that he would ask. That is all he ever asked.

My sister and I were lucky enough to have two amazing parents. I could not have asked for a better childhood.

We were truly very fortunate. We never heard them fight. I never even heard my Dad lie. Except, for maybe convincing my sister there was a Santa Claus...until she was 25. 

Even now, I think she's 50/50 on it. I have a suspicion that he may have hired someone to sneak down Christmas Eve at her house and set up the presents.

Family really meant everything to my Dad. And that certainly included my Aunt. Even though she was his older sister by 8 years, she always let him tag along. When he was younger she would drive him everywhere and he was always pushing her to go faster. Fortunately, he never peer pressured her into any speeding tickets. My Uncle, also helped teach him how to drive.

They must have done one incredible job with these early driving lessons, because instead of the short way, my Dad always took the scenic route. Every time we went on a family vacation, it did not matter how far, we drove. The trips could be 10, 20, 30 Hours there...then we'd do it all again on the ride home.

Looking back on it now, all those hours just driving together were special. AND my Dad knew it.
For him and I though, baseball was our special thing. We would watch it, read it and we were always talking, baseball. Because of that, ever since I can remember, I've been really into baseball statistics.  Not sure what it says about me, but I can tell you that Mickey Mantle hit .353 in 1956, though I never really got the hang of math once the alphabet became involved.

He taught me how to pitch, he taught me how to hit. My Dad always made the time. Even if it was just having a catch across the street. We had talked recently about having a catch because it had been a few years, but it just never happened. I know we will get to have a catch again, the pain is just the time it is going to take to do it.

My Dad was a huge Classic Rock fan. He actually took on the arduous task of burning every single song, or "tune", as he called it, from every single record album he owned, onto his iPod. I remember when I was in the 5th grade and the only way you were "cool" was if you listened to rap. I didn't care. I still preferred Classic Rock because I wanted to be like my Dad. And when my wife complains that my taste in music is "too old," the person she really needs to take it up with is him.

My Dad was a creature of habit. When we would go out to eat, he would get a hamburger. If it was some place nicer than a diner, he would order a New York Strip, even if it was a Seafood Restaurant. He wasn't a fan of switching things up. THAT, or vegetables. I think my wife probably knows somebody a lot like that too.

I always say I was wearing Aviator Sunglasses before they were cool. Well, my dad was wearing them, when they were cool, when they WEREN'T cool anymore, AND THEN, when they got cool again.

One of my Dad's favorite things to do was to just work on his lawn. The grass could probably pass for the 18th hole at Augusta. In fact, I think I even remember a couple people playing through on it. Cars would drive past really slow to look at his flower beds, or to check out the way he decorated the house on Holidays. One time, when a bush in front of the house inexplicably turned brown, he just spray painted it green. I'm actually planning on following this example and painting my whole lawn green so I don't have to cut it anymore.

With his compassion and his willingness to be there for anybody who needed him, my Dad actually reminded me a lot of George Bailey from It's A Wonderful Life. In the movie, the Angel Clarence has a quote:

"Strange isn't it, Each man's life touches so many other lives, when he isn't around, he leaves an awful hole."

This is especially true about the many lives my Dad has touched and the awful void left by him not being here. Though even with this loss, I take comfort in the fact that with my Mom, his life, truly was a Wonderful Life.

When my sister gets married next month, I know my Dad will be there for her, as he has always been there for her. Although, instead of wearing those uncomfortable tuxedos, I'm sure he'll be watching wearing his Phillies shirt, jeans and a pair of Chucks.

The night before my Dad passed away, I stopped over to see if he needed help with something. And, of course, he said, no. He was in the back yard watering his plants. So, we spoke for a few moments, we gave each other our customary "high five" and I walked away. But, before I left, for some reason, I just remember taking notice, the weather was perfect, the sky was blue, the sun was setting, but still peaking through the trees. And there, was my Dad, in his yard, with this beautiful light on him. That was the last time I saw my Dad, and for a last glimpse of him, I think that is the best way to remember him. Happy, and doing something that he loved.

My Dad never really said Goodbyes, just like I won't say Goodbye to him now. He would simply say, "Catch Ya Later." So, Dad, "Catch Ya Later," I love you.

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