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Jul 28

Lawnmower For Sale: You Can’t Afford it

Posted on Tuesday, July 28, 2009 in Family

Nathan's Priceless Lawnmower

Nathan's Priceless Lawnmower

While cutting the grass last night Nathan had HIS lawnmower out.  He was sitting on his swing on the swingset, just kind of holding onto the lawn mower.  For the last couple years, he would occasionally mimic me as I cut the grass…you know, a boy pretending to do as his Dad does.

Before he said anything, I could tell he had cut his last blade of grass with that mower of his.  He’s my little man, but not THAT little.  It wouldn’t be cool to be seen walking around with a toy mower.  Not anymore.

Most times these gentle shifts and changes in my kids go unnoticed, as they transition from one thing to the next repeatedly and effortlessly, but this little moment tugged at my heart. My buckeroo continues to grow up, darn it!

I kind of choked up relating this story to Lori. 

Nathan was not so moved.  As I turned my mower off, he said, “Dad, I think I’m gonna sell this (his mower), I could probably get 3 bucks for it.”

I’m thinking the price may be a million times higher.

Jun 23

Who’s Your Daddy?

Posted on Tuesday, June 23, 2009 in Family

This is a letter I wrote 4 years ago in one of my monthly letters/newsletters to clients family and friends as Father’s Day was approaching.  It was called, “Who’s Your Daddy?”

I hope you had a chance to thumb through my new newlsetter recently.  What was your favorite “Dad-ism?”  Many a road trip anywhere resulted in a threat of, “Do you want me to pull over?”  (Heck no Dad!  Hurry up and get us to Woolworth’s so I can spend my 15 cents allowance!)  I also remember how my Dad loved to sing while awaiting dinner to be served…”Mares eat oats and does eat oats and kids’ll eat ivy too…”  I’d like to hear that one on American Idol!

I’ve had a lot of time to think about my Father.  Last month marked 30 years since the single worst day of my life, the day my Dad died.  Heart attack.  He was 56.  It’s a good thing God gave us an infinite supply of tears, because otherwise I’d surely have exhausted my lifetime supply by the age of 13.

Al Williams was a “shop” teacher, I think it’s “tech ed” now.  He was the Driver’s Ed instructor and tennis coach too.  I’m darn glad that he and my Mom didn’t quit at 7 kids, or else I wouldn’t be here.

My Dad took me to the town library quite often, even though I only ever checked out Harold and The Purple Crayon or Curious George Goes To The Hospital.  He found a station on the radio for me that broadcast every single NY Knicks basketball game!  He took me to see the Harlem Globetrotters one year, that may be my all-time favorite Christmas gift.  I forgot to bring the coupon I clipped off the Alpha Bits box good for a free game of bowling, but Dad still let me bowl an extra game anyway.  He taught me 5 card draw poker, and it was okay if 2’s, 4’s, 7’s and one-eyed Jacks were wild.  There was never a summer supper that wasn’t followed by a game of 21 on the backyard hoop, or a round of mini-golf on my makeshift 18 hole course carved out in our tree-cluttered half acre of crabgrass and dandelions.

He was not Super Dad.  He wasn’t Ward Cleaver or Mike Brady.  He was just MY Dad.  I miss him now, like I missed him then, like I always will.  I tried to praise my Mom once for her positive, easy-going attitude.  She laughed and said, “That was your Father.”  That was my Father.

The passing of my Dad has shaped my life more than anything else.  I learned a long time ago what it takes many a lifetime to figure out.  Each day you have on Earth is a brightly wrapped gift with a bow and your name on it.  Tear it open with the unbridled joy of a child on Christmas morning.  Be forever grateful for every such gift, for one day…there won’t be one with your name on it.



May 21

Remembering My Dad…

Posted on Thursday, May 21, 2009 in Family

It was 34 years ago today that my Dad passed way from a heart attack he suffered 3 days earlier.  I was 13.  As we get closer to Father’s Day I will post my favorite letter I wrote about him from a few years back.

You don’t know what it’s like to lose someone so important to you until it actually happens.  What I remember most about the hours and days after he died is how much I cried.  I know now from being a dad, just how quickly and how often kids cry.  At 6 and 10 Nathan and Kate probably find some reason to cry on a daily basis.  Surely I cried as much then at those ages as they do now, but I hardly remember any of  it.  Maybe that’s why my sobbing when Dad died seems so memorable.  At the funeral it was just endless, relentless wimpering and crying and hyperactive tear glands.  It just hurt so so much.  While we all shared the grief, only my sister Mary could match my outpouring of the sorrow inside.  Strangely, sadly, one of the everlasting images of my father, is of him crying as hard as I was that day, on they day we buried my brother Al, my oldest brother, his first born son.  I was 5 and I didn’t really know what it all meant, but seeing your Dad cry like a baby will brand a memory in your heart forever.

In the days and weeks that followed Dad’s passing I felt a prolonged numbness.  What now?  What do you do without a Dad?  School was on out of body experience.  As my 7th grade peers anxiously awaited the end of another school year and the start of week after week of summer fun, I just went through the motions and wallowed in sadness.

One of the last things we did together, was sign me up for my first ever try at midget football.  How I wished he could have been there at any time, that year or any year to see me play.  From that miserable beginning, a chubby lineman barely sucking the weight to not exceed the limit for the league, to becoming a co-captain of the Varsity as a senior, it would have been great to get an “attaboy” from my father. 

We played about a 999 rounds of mini-golf on my homemade golf course in the backyard.  Only a few weeks before 5/21/75, he took me into Zambito’s, a rundown sporting goods store somewhere off the beaten path in Rochester, so I could buy my first set of real golf clubs.  Not 30 days after May 21st of that year was my 1st attempt on a real golf course.  I’ve played a thousand times since.  You know, just once with the old man and his Two Guys putter with the light blue shaft woulda been real special.

At no age is it easy to lose your Dad.  My best friend lost his only a couple years ago.  He had 40+ years with his Pop.  They weren’t all great.  In fact, some were bad.  But chances are if you have your father that long, you have more memories together, and it may be even harder to lose them when they’re with you for  so long.  There’s no good time to say goodbye.

While I wish my Dad was here today, it’d be hard to trade the experiences I’ve had, and the things I’ve  learned, and the person I’ve become because I lost him 34 years ago.  I know in many ways it has made me stronger, more resilient, more patient, more positive and more appreciative of my blessings and the people around me. 

Thanks Dad.

I didn’t know where this would go, and I didn’t know where it would end, but it feels better in print, than in my head.