Loss, change and brilliant man now gone

Change is inevitable. This website will be undergoing changes too, but that will have to wait. Right now, I am dealing with a serious loss, and I mean serious. You see, my father passed away this past Thursday from complications from cancer chemotherapy. He was 78.

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear; my father beat cancer, but it’s the chemo which ultimately beat him. This was a classic case of the cure (or in this case, treatment) being worse than the disease. Enough, however, with the unpleasantness, let me tell you a little about my dad and the man he was.

Dad was far from average. Intelligent is the first word which comes to mind. His style was a throwback; he believed in honor and family above all else. Where many men have taken to behaving like “alphas” just to strut and show off and attract women, my dad was a real man simply because he understood what being one was all about. He was married to my mother, his wife, for over 54 years. A devout Catholic, he obtained both his Bachelors and Masters degrees from St. Leo University, a catholic university here in Florida. Late in life, he taught Catholic Conversion for adults seeking to join the faith. He didnt just talk the faith, he lived it.

He lived the life of a classic Italian man in so many ways. Cooking, gardening, handyman work, car repair – all second nature to him. He had a carpenters mind, a teachers heart, and a wanderers soul. He loved travel, and loved the water. He taught me how to cook without instructions or a recipe card, how to grow a garden, how to change a tire and my own oil, and how to understand life. He gave me a swift kick in the behind when I needed it, and a open ear to bend when I sought it. In so many ways, he broke the mold.

Men like him are in short supply.

One of the things which he was so wonderful about was listening to a counter argument. He didn’t belittle you, shout you down, or walk away if you were respectful. He offered his points, listened to yours, debated and always came away learning something, even if it was just about the mentality and character of the person he was sparring with. As a parent, he dealt with challenges but, as the years went by, his children (myself included) sought his support and counsel. He was, to us, invincible, despite us knowing full well he was quite mortal.

His last day on this earth, he was a shadow of who he was, but still stubborn as ever. He held on long after the doctor said he would, and waited patiently for us all to make our peace and ask him the final question – did he want it all to end? With all the complications he endured, the answer was quite obvious. At 7:35PM on July 26, he left this world, though we know he’s still around to harangue us and laugh at our misadventures. I still hear his cackle.

With all that out of the way, here some nuggets about dad.

  • He could create a lush garden out of playbox sand (I know, I helped!
  • As a boy, he survived a near-fatal run-in with a car while playing in the street.
  • He moved his family from Pennsylvania to Florida without having a job, and managed to create a new life in under 5 years.
  • He contributed to several books about logistics management written in the 1960s.
  • He was able to keep a station wagon on the road while being sideswiped by a big rig going 75 mph on an Atlanta freeway.
  • He once put a drill bit through his finger while constructing a patio set, and didnt even blink.
  • He once drove fast enough across and intersection to get the car he was driving airborne….the car was a Saturn Ion.
  • He wore what we affectionately called the “pimp hat.” It wasnt a real pimp, but a straw hat with a some decor which gave it a “pimpy” look.
  • The most awesome thing about dad was this, and it’s a quality which is rarely found in many so-called “fathers”. He was my dad. That’s the only thing which counts.

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