I was going to post this as a new page this evening, but after I finished putting these words on the page, I decided to post it on the Home Page. It probably has nothing to do with dividends or investing, but it is what is at the front of my mind right now and what has been with me all day while I worked on that house. There is a reason why that house stays like it is. It is not because I do not want to work on it, it is not because I do not have time to work on it, it isn’t even because I am overwhelmed with it and the other issues going on in my life. The reason why that house has just been sitting there is because every time I go there I think about my dad. He never even saw this house, so there should not be any connection with it to him. However, there is, and the connection is that I can’t stop thinking about how much I miss him. All those projects and all those years are crashing down on me every time I walk through the door. Today however, was different, but when I got home and settled in, the thoughts just came racing back. I almost always work alone, so I am with my thoughts all day. For some reason, I was fine working- maybe because I tried to include my project in this blog and that might have helped. Posting those pictures and writing a little put the other thoughts out of my conscious mind, but when I sat down and dwelled on my accomplishments, it all came crashing down. I read a little story last night on Henry’s blog Living at Home and that kind of started the thoughts to surface. I probably should go to bed now and try to make tomorrow as good as today. I know that is what my dad would want. With that, here is what I wrote tonight, but I am going to post it on the front page.
I knew in the depths of my heart that the day would come when my father would be with me no more. It is an inevitable conclusion for most members of society that their parents will die before them. It is part of life. Our parents were born and grew up. They got married and had kids. Along the way, they got older and eventually will die. Sure, it does not go that way all the time because of accidents or disease or because of any of the incalculable ways life can be taken from us. But, for the majority of individuals burying a parent is… was… and will be a part of there lives. This plays out enumerable times every day- day after day with no end. It has played out for me and the song is still playing incessantly.
My dad and I were very close. We worked together, we ate together, we hung out together and we fixed a lot of problems together. My father was a very giving man. He helped anyone and everyone. He would always be there when someone needed his help. He just seemed to be able to do anything. I was born later in life for my parents, and my parents were almost done raising children when I came along. I think I was lucky to be born so far removed from my siblings. It allowed me to have siblings, but it also allowed me to have my parents to myself. I never knew any different when I was growing up- that was just the way it was.
I always looked up to my father. To me, he was everything I wanted to be. He could do anything and always had the answers. If I asked him a question, he told me or showed me. He was always there with the solution. That was just how it was for my entire life. As I was growing up, sometimes I would watch him work and wonder what I would do when he was gone. It was just fleeting thoughts, but I would just sit back and just think how sad I would be if and when he was not there to hang out with me anymore. Those moments would happen from time to time, but over all those decades, it must have added up to many scores. I just got so used to doing everything with my dad that I just came to expect that he would just be here doing the same things we always did forever. Well, I knew that day would come, and those moments when I thought about him not being with me anymore all came crushing down on me all at once when we finally were told that all the pain he was suffering from was not just normal for him, but it was lung cancer. Wow! That was a long sentence- that is how it felt when I heard the results. It just felt like one long sentence. I just could not believe what I was hearing. My father was always so strong and in very good shape. Although he was 83, he really looked more like a man in his 60’s. We were just shoveling 36 yards of mud in one of the rentals a week before the diagnosis. He was short of breath while we were working, but he kept going. He was just one tough old guy. His work ethic was second to none. He just did what made him happy. If he was working and you heard a whistle, he was in his zone. He could outwork men half his age and did not even try. He just liked to build things and help others. He built houses with Habitat for Humanity, built ramps for disabled veterans, built toy cars for kids to sit in when they got X rays so they would be comforted while being prodded and poked, and he just built things to build them- that is what he did, and he was good at it. He even built a 42 foot boat because he wanted to build a 42 foot boat. That boat was so cool, and I had many wonderful days on it with my dad.
All the while, I knew that day would come, and when it did, a part of me left this earth. I tried to be the man he expected me to be, and I paid homage to him in the best way I knew how. What follows are my thoughts that were spoken at his funeral. The thoughts of a son who dreaded that day for all those years and who has attempted to walk in his enormous shoes. I hope he heard me and knew that he truly was a great man and a wonderful father to me…….
To speak of a lifetime in the span of just a few minutes is a formidable task to say the least. When that Lifetime is that of my father —that task becomes monumental. I am not a trained speaker nor do I possess the tongue of those who are much wiser than I. But what I say—I say from the bottom of my heart— And, it is with a heavy heart that I stand here before you today. I hope my thoughts and words portray the true humble feelings that I as well as my family share for dad. I woke up this morning thinking of how my father asked me not to shed tears for him. I promised him that I would not —-To tell you the truth— I do not know if I will truly be able to keep that promise.
Difficult as it may be, sometimes we must face the bitterness and sorrow that this life we have brings forth in order to really appreciate the utter goodness that is bestowed on us every day. Today I chose to speak to you because I want to— no, I have to tell you what my dad meant to me. Inevitably the words are mine, but I am more than confident that they will express the sincere love that my mother, my brothers and sister, my wife and most of all, my children feel for my father —-Mike.
I have never been one to share my innermost feelings aloud, however, today, that will change! I am here to speak of and to my father- This is a day which will remain with me until my last breath. I have always looked up to my Dad and He meant the world to me. Oh, there were both good times as well as bad but, I would relive my life with no questions asked. I learned so much from him and, I seemed to be his little shadow. I just tagged along no matter where we went and I enjoyed every moment. From my earliest memories, I see a man who could do anything. Others share these same feelings and
I feel the following words support those thoughts.
May 31, 1985
May the shrimp be big
And your troubles small
Enjoy and relax
You deserve it after all
Of one man so proud are we
For all you’ve done for our family
Whether a broken dishwasher or a little child’s bike
We all know we can call Uncle Mike.
Congratulations on your retirement Uncle Mike
He was what most would call a “Jack of all trades” but I think he was more than that. Who could argue that he was the plumber or the mechanic or the architect or carpenter, while being the brick mason and electrician? I saw his talents and they were many. If the washer broke, he fixed it. If the room was hot, he cooled it down. I think at one point, he might have even thought he was NOAH, because he built an ARK. He was both shipbuilder and mariner and that boat was his piece di resistance. Not only was it impressive but, it was also imposing like the builder himself. To see it docked in the marina was surely a sight to behold. Although I was not a major part in building his dream, I enjoyed every moment
in its use. He was a master of everything.
To me, he was a Renaissance man. His talents were not just physical, but mental as well. He was just really smart. He had such a keen insight into things. Numbers just came naturally to him. I got a little insight into his true genius when I was in college. I was having fits in a Physics class. Although I never asked for help with homework or school work, I mentioned the fact that my time in a certain Physics class was really being wasted. He asked me if I could show him the book and in the matter of about 45 minutes, he taught me more than that teacher with a PhD taught me in an entire semester.
His practical knowledge of the subject made it feel so simple—- Just like when we worked together.
We really seemed to be able to work together well. I listened to what he told me and offered my opinions, but I knew who was the craftsman and who was the apprentice. I knew the tools he needed to use and anticipated his requests. It just felt like second nature after all those years. You know, I do not know if I built all of those projects because I wanted them or if I just wanted to be with my dad. I can truly say—- I really will miss those moments we shared. I can just hear it now. “What are you going to do with that! “And to that, My answer was always, Ah come on dad, it is going to be so cool. . I think he went with it because he always told me of the times he wanted to do something in
particular and didn’t—- and he regretted it. I told him that I did not want to go through life and regret not doing something . So, it seems we both did a few really cool things together and, I wish I had the chance to do some more. I do not know if my desire for such pursuits will be as they once were, but if my children choose such endeavors—- I am all in.
Some of my most vivid memories of childhood revolve around our weekly trips around the corner. I usually got there first as Uncle Joe asked me “How’s Your Daddy?” I always answered the same way, ‘’He’s fine.” As Dad showed up, we hit the garage for the usual which consisted of a haircut and a little small talk about Nixon or Carter or whoever was trying to lead the country at the time. In those days, I did not really know what a Republican or a Democrat was, but the picture of the donkey in Uncle Bill’s
garage painted a vivid picture in my mind. After the haircut, it was inside with Aunt Rose and Aunt Rita and the glass of tea — I really miss that tea. I can hear them talking now and answering the phone. All the kids seemed to call at that time——- I guess they knew the ritual also. I remember one particular night when we were all together and a call came about the lights not working in someone’s house. I jumped into the car with Uncle Billy and off we went- He reminded me a lot of my dad. The house was dark and he found the problem. It was nothing for him to fix. That night, he gave me a dollar coin- I still have it. He told me about the times he shared with my old man and over the years, my dad did the same. I learned so much from my elders about how truly special my father was– No! That word is not quite right. I should say how special my father IS!! We always look at our parents and forget that they were children also. They had lives quite like our own and grew up learning from those who came before. No one can ever know all the stories and intricacies that make a person a person— we mostly know that from what we see and hear. Most of the people who told me of my father have been taken from us already- but the stories they told me were many and the picture they painted was done so in the finest oils- Michelangelo would have been proud. I use to see most of my aunts and uncles almost every day. The bond that we shared is indescribable. As a young boy, I could see the way my father’s sister’s idolized their brother. He was so special to each one of them and they never let me forget it. Nothing could tarnish the image that Mike made in their presence. To them he was made of only the finest steel- a trait very few men possess. Through them, I learned of the playful boyish side my father possessed. I learned he was so much more than the father I knew. I was told of the happy-go-lucky little guy who got up late and skinned his knees just like me. . I shared a special bond with Aunt Miriam. She was the baby like me- So we had a lot of the same thoughts on so many things. It came up one day about how my dad seems to just be able to get up every morning and everything just seems to be just so natural with him. Well, that was the day that I learned about how dad used to get up as a kid. Being the hard sleeper that she says he was, he seemed to need a little motivation. That motivation came in a pan of water. Needless to say there were a lot of bed linens that needed attention before he went to the service.
From those conversations with Rita, Rose, Lucy, And Miriam, I learned of the special bond he had with his father. I was not blessed with the pleasure to see my grandfather, so what I know of him- I know from my father and his sister’s and the picture my dad kept at the side of his bed. I use to look at that picture of my grandfather from as early as I could remember. I use to imagine his voice and his laugh. I saw him through my dad, and as I got older, I realized that even though I never knew him, he was there with me. I heard about the little workshop in the back and the little projects that seemed to never stop coming- Tinkering as they called it. Now that I think about it, that song sounds all too familiar. He never left, I did know my grandfather because he was in dad. The apple never falls far from the tree. I see that now. I know if I was born sooner, I would have been building some crazy contraption in that little shop with both of them.
There was a special bond between pops and uncle Charlie——Although I never knew him, Again, I feel so close. The sister’s use to laugh and giggle when I was around and I never knew why. I would just sit around and watch with a wonder of the comedy that they shared but I never went as far as to ask them why- Before Aunt Miriam passed away I finally did. I was told that I reminded them of how they remembered Charlie and although I never saw it myself, it must have been true. My dad was at that table when it was said and he never questioned their thoughts on the subject. I think he thought that same way himself- because he spoke of Charlie often when we were together. I feel that in me he got to
not only be with me but to hang out with his big brother just a little bit longer. I heard about the ice cream parlor where he used to work and how dad used to go visit his big brother. He had nothing but the best words to describe the man he so vividly remembered. That steel must run deep in this family.
Speaking of that steel, it has made its way down the line and my father thought the world of all of his father’s children and their children as well. But, there was a boy in this family who had a special place in his heart. Darryl, He saw you like a son. To him, you were as big as life. I think your picture is painted in those magnificent oils and you ARE cut from that fine steel. The times you spent with my father were so very precious to him and in turn they have become precious to me. I know why you are my godfather.
Before Margaret Ann died, she told me that family was very important and that she wanted to keep the traditions alive with the get togethers and such. She told me that at the last New Year’s party she had and it felt very special to be there with everyone who was fortunate enough to attend. I have tried to keep that promise to her ever since. Tradition has been very important in this family, and when I think of my father’s family and by that I mean his name, I think of the old ways and the traditions that meant so very much to each and every one of you. There are so many family members and each one was special to my father. I have always been struck by how close-knit those bonds were between his siblings
and their children and grandchildren. I know how much he enjoyed the visits and get togethers he shared with each of you— He was blessed to have such a wonderful extended family.
Speaking of get togethers, I can remember the times when everyone gathered in Aunt Rita’s garage and that big fan was spinning- It seemed like when that thing was going, a party was to be had. I can remember Henry tending the bar and all the uncles and friends bantering back and forth about the latest political upheaval. I could see all my aunts around the table with the kids who were really adults at the time and everything was just right. At this moment I can see my dad as clearly as if we were there right now – and for those of you who were there with me- I know you can too. The laughter was usually quite loud during those times as that fan spun so relentlessly.
I learned a lot over the years about my POPs just through small talk like guys do, but it was my mother who would tell me the extent my father would go to provide for his family. She told me of the endless hours and days of work he would perform so we could go to good schools and have the opportunities to make our lives and the lives of our children better. He told me so many times that he enjoyed work and he did it because he enjoyed it. His friends, most of who are gone now, would tell me how he could outwork everyone else. Those words were met with awe— and in time, they were known to me as fact because I saw it for myself. By accident my dad could do what most men tried to do on purpose. He
would just effortlessly go along measuring and cutting and nailing away in his own little world. Sometimes I would look over to him and just stare at him. I would notice how he could just make things happen. His focus was definitely on his task at hand. I noticed how strong his arms and hands were. His forearms were so impressive, and he could swing that hammer with reckless abandon. I’ll tell you, I could tell when he was focused, because he would be whistling to high heaven—- and if whistling is considered an art, he was the Leonardo of the craft. My son would hear him sometimes, and the look on his face would say it all. It was truly something special to witness.
I remember going to Tennessee and Florida on a 2 week vacation when I was a child. Almost 40 years have passed, It seems like yesterday. I can remember the drive, the car, the hotel, and most of all the pool. We were sitting by the pool, and so many people were in there. But Dad was the one who noticed. He just dove off the side and scooped that little girl out of the water with no fuss. She was scared and crying, but she was safe. I do not remember him saying much after that but we went up to the room. He seemed bigger than life at that moment and that is pretty much how I saw him from that day on. My
father was Superman to me. I saw him in a light as bright as the sun. But, inevitably—- even Superman has his fatal flaw. My father was felled by an evil villain that is beyond description. He fought a valiant fight with my brothers and my sister at his side. Each one offering the care he most certainly deserved. Michael catered to Dad in his last days and moments with all the love and care that anyone could give. He should be proud of himself for taking such care of the man we all love so deeply. Barry prayed with my dad every night and spent time with him and comforted him through his suffering and pain. Connie
also prayed with him and comforted him throughout this painful ordeal. Throughout his last days, my son and daughter kept asking me how Grandpa was and Robbie so desperately wanted his grandfather to attend his party the Saturday before he passed away. Grandpa was not going to miss that moment.
He made his way with Connie, Charlie and Julie and enjoyed Robbie’s party the best he could. He even had a beer or two. I think my son will always remember his 11th Birthday party. My pops was a guy who would tell you just how things are. He shot straight from the hip and I respected him for that. Since I was born so much later than my siblings, I can only address how he took care of me when I was young. He was firm and strict, but that was for my benefit. I learned early on that it was better to just come out and tell the truth and accept the consequences. One day, I was horsing around on my bike and I got hit by a car. I managed to walk away with a cracked skull and a few abrasions, but my tale of falling off my bike was soon undone. A few days later when he asked me what happened, and I told him of the fall I had taken, he sarcastically told me how one of the neighbors was asking him if I was alright because she saw me get hit by a car. I was caught and I felt terrible- He told me he was not mad at me but disappointed that I did not tell him the truth. He wanted the best for me and was always looking out for my safety. Needless to say, from then on sometimes the truth was much stranger than fiction.
I have a lifetime of memories with my dad— each one more precious than the next. But, I think the one that has imprinted so deep on my soul is our trip to the Grand Canyon. I planned to go years before we actually went, but things just never fell into place. But, My daughter made it to the Junior Olympics in Tumbling in California— and it was on the way— so off we went. He was tired and hurting so bad, but I think he knew that time was short, so we made the trip. I will never forget the moment we came to the rim of the canyon. He told me to bring the kids to the trail because he was not feeling up to the short
walk, but after he saw how we were just gazing over the side of that majestic beast, I think he knew that might be the only opportunity to see that with his family. So, out he came, and there we stood on the edge of the most majestic sight my eyes have ever seen. We just stood there in that misty sunset not a word being said. I don’t think such words have been uttered to describe a sight such as that.
I promised dad that I would never turn my back on my beliefs that he instilled in me from the moment I was born. I will never quit nor will I back down from something I truly believe in. He never quit—– so quitting is not an option. I hope that one day I will be able to be considered to be cut from that steel which gleamed so brightly in my eyes. I am so glad that TV was broken on that fateful night so many years ago, and I think he was too. I hope he is smiling down on me at this very moment.
I loved my father and always will. He not only gave me life, but nurtured that life along the way. I am what I am because of him. Everything that is me is because My father was so very special. I am truly blessed. Albert Einstein once said, “Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation. For they are us, our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life.”
How can I say it better!!
I can’t nor will I try.
I have been speaking of my father from my eyes.
So, I’ll take this chance with a little spin
And direct these words toward the younger kin.
Father you have been taken from me……. but you will always be near.
I miss you so very much……. but I have nothing to fear.
Moment by moment…. as each day will surely pass
I will be able to be with you…. in my mind…. from the memories I’ve so carefully amassed.
For when those times when I need you most arrive…… as they most certainly will appear.
You WILL be with me——Because you will always be here.
Yeh, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil— for you are with me– You are with me—– you are in my son and my daughter—– you are in my family and in my friends. I only pray that my son and daughter will see me in the same glorious light that I see you. Because of you, goodness and mercy will surely follow me all the days of my life.
My father and I shared some special moments. We sometimes just sat back after we worked and just enjoyed our time together. I would like to share the moment I promised with him with each one of you as well as my grandparents, uncles and aunts and family who have gone before. I hope this moment will remind those of you here of the times when you shared the same very moment with my dad and Your dad’s as well so many years ago.
Have I dotted all the I’s and crossed all the
T’s—– hard to say. But, one thing I know for sure is that I Love
my Father and Wish he was here.
“””How I wish you were here!!””””
Wish you were here POPs!