One month ago my dad died (it’s not something I made public so sorry to spring that on you all).
I’m fine. My family is fine. We have zero regrets. Truly. We were a close, loving family, and that peace is a remarkable feeling to have. The only memories I have are positive, loving ones and I realize how grateful and fortunate I am for that to be the case.
In the month since his passing, I’ve thought a lot about him. It’s hard to not be able to pick up the phone and just say, “Hey Dad”. Or see his smile. He was always smiling. He had a great smile. Still, I talk to him every single day. I ask his advice. Or just tell him I love him.
As a young father, I can see how much I’m like my father now. Kind and loving, but with a very fixed length of fuse. We are both extremely patient people, until we’re not. If that makes sense. Our families come first, second, and third. And while my dad was never a get on the floor type with me, he was always there for me. Always.
You see, my dad was a school teacher. So, when I got home from school my dad was getting home, too. And he had his summers off, so when I was out of school, he was there, too. We spent a lot of time at the Wildwood beach in the summers as a family. It’s still my happiest place in the world. I’ll tell you the man could have been a World Champion body surfer 🙂 I know one thing, I spent many a day riding on his back through the surf. He never seemed to tire of that.
I’ve got so many wonderful memories of my father. His ridiculous ability to calculate exact ETAs while driving. His precision in his penmanship. His handiness (even if his setup and cleanup times were 10 times longer that the actual chore, ha). His love and respect for my mother. His contentness. His lack of focus on materialistic things. His supreme knowledge of things you’d think he’d have no idea about. His love of tennis. His quirks. His love of getting a good head massage. His reverse-spoon ice cream eating technique (classic). His waddle later on in life.
Though if I had to distill things down to one memory – it’s easy – his voice while I wrestled. For some backstory, I wrestled for Paulsboro High School in South Jersey. That was a big deal. We never lost in my four years in high school. Paulsboro is wrestling. Our tiny gym would be packed to the gills. Thousands of people screaming and cheering. And among all that chaos and noise, I heard one voice. My dad’s. He always sat in the same spot. He would jerk and fidget and squirm in his seat as if we were wrestling in parallel. Somehow tied together. And it was his voice I’d hear. Not my coaches, not my teammates, not any other person in the gym. All of that faded out to silence. Just his voice got through. “Move!” “Shoot!”, “Get up!” “Good job!”.
The most remarkable thing is he never missed a single match. Not one. He was always there. Always in his same spot. Back row, top left just by the locker room door. I could look up and know win or lose he’d be there. He’d be cheering. He’d be proud. His voice would get through the crowd.
I miss that voice.