Father’s Day, a day when everyone gets to show the person in their life who has supported them, raised them, influenced them and loved them, just how much they love them. Both my parents always used the same comment when, for some reason, I couldn’t see them their respective Mother’s or Father’s Day, “everyday is Mothers/fathers day!” Neither of them ever made me feel guilty if I couldn’t be with them, although I was with them more often than not.
I loved this sentiment. Every day is a day to celebrate the people in your life who support you, love you unconditionally, instill beliefs and values in you, and are always the people in your corner. My folks didn’t need a special day to feel special, they seemed to understand always that they were celebrated daily. Of course, not when we were young. As a teenager, I was one tough cookie. I had a mind of my own, and rebelled better than most, and better than my brothers! I was culture shock for my parents. They went from hearing Chicago and James Taylor playing on the stereo to Led Zeppelin almost cracking glass! The went from 2 boys who loved sports and didn’t really get into trouble until they were 18 to a daughter who pushed every boundary. I was caught smoking cigarettes at 15, drinking at 16 and cursing at 17! My brother Steve once called me after his eldest daughter turned about 14 or 15 and said, “I now understand why Mom and Dad got so grey when you were a teenager!” And yet, my parents remained my greatest supporters and became my best friends.
As I sit here thinking about my dad, I am struck by all of the ways he has influenced me and my life. Dad had a work ethic that was second to nobody, except maybe mom! He taught me to always do my best, to push hard and to always be involved. The term, give it your all, was definitely how we were taught. Go full on out there and do your very best always. That work ethic pushed all of us, we all worked hard in our respective careers, never allowing mediocrity to sneak in. Dad was a loyal man. He was loyal to my mom, to our family, to his heritage, to his country. That loyalty translated to my two brothers, who treat their wives and family’s with that same type of loyalty. For me, that loyalty was to my family, employers, and my lifelong friends, the people who have been by my side, who I would fight for and stand with at all times. Dad was able to laugh at himself, which is a trait we all have. We are able to not take ourselves so seriously and can laugh at our guffaws, as well as our quirks. My brother being a “Don Rickels” type comedian made sure you got a think skin. Dad taught me about resilience and creating a “chapter 2.” He was forced to retire early from a career he loved due to the company’s changes. Instead of wallowing in self pity, he began consulting and then decided to create a new chapter for himself at 60 years of age! He built and maintained a business for 20 years, being his own boss and loving everything he did. That resilience, creativity and fortitude were passed on to us. He showed us that to keep sharp you had to use the brain, and dad was sharp until the day he died. Dad also made sure we were street smart, so we learned defensive driving, how to fix things and understand that people will rip you off unless you know what you are talking about. My ex-husband was always amazed as to how much I knew about a car motor, things in the house, and the power of negotiation.
On this first Father’s Day without my main man, the greatest supporter of my life, I reflect on all that he gave to me. I look at the family he and mom created, their legacy, with pride and so much love for how we love each other, help each other and enjoy each other. I know my dad is smiling at the fathers in my family and the children that called him Grandpa, PopPop and Great Grandpa (we are not good at only one name for people in our family!).
I was blessed to have an amazing dad who loved me unconditionally, always treated me as his little girl and who I know was very proud of who I am. To all the dad’s, stepdad’s, Aunts and Uncles who have been dads and the mom’s who have been both mom and dad, know that your influence is your legacy and celebrate that today.
Father’s Day, a day when everyone gets to show the person in their life who has supported them, raised them, influenced them and loved them, just how much they love them.