In October I shared my story of the three women who inspired my life, Me, Myself & I. Now I’d like to share my story about the two men who inspired me. They’re both gone now, but they will never be gone from my heart. The things they instilled in me will live on as long as I do…and beyond.
Meet Frank, my dad, affectionately known as Sonny Boy. Manhatten born and raised, his dream was to be a New York Yankee. He had an incredible love for baseball. He even tried out for the team but didn’t make it. My mom always tells the story of how my dad played stick ball hours before their wedding and hit a homerun. A Navy veteran, he was always joking, always willing to help out our neighbors, fighting for equality, at a time when such a thing was unheard of. I am my father’s child. He taught me how to bowl, how to ride a bike and how to hit & catch a baseball. I learned a great deal from a man who spent his adult life driving a truck, and later fighting for his life as one of the first recipients of triple bypass heart surgery. My dad & I had our ups and downs and we stopped speaking to each other for three years, right after my parents divorced. I was 21 when he contacted me again. What a wave of emotions. I don’t think I could put them into words. But it was the best thing to happen for both of us.
The holidays are the hardest time for me. Dad passed away the morning of December 31, 1985, just five short months after I married, just hours after I said I would call him to wish him a Happy New Year. Even today, when the phone rings, I expect to hear his voice on the other end, with his cheerful “Hello There!” I’m blessed that he was able to walk me down the aisle, and dance with my mom one more time. I’m thankful that Neil & I spent a week with him for part of our honeymoon. I regret that my children never got the chance to meet him but I make sure they know everything about him. I see him in them every day.
I miss you, daddy, more & more with each day that passes…
Meet Donald, dad number two. When I lost my dad, Don stepped in and made sure I didn’t lose my way. Born in Cohoes, NY, he was the scholarly son. Making his way through the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, dad received his PHD in English and later became a published author on the life of William Faulkner. An English professor at Paterson State College, which later became William Paterson College and then University, he spent his teaching career in the English department, at one point as the department chair. And boy could he cook! When he wasn’t doing the English thing, you could find him working at his second passion. Luckily, that rubbed off on his son 😉
We lost Don on November 4, 1988, on Neil’s birthday. Jonathan, our son, was blessed to have had his Pop Pop Don for a short 18 months. What I’ll remember most about Don is that he always encouraged the best in people, including me. When I showed him a piece I had written many years ago, a children’s story, he told me I should be published. I laughed, taking his comments half-heartedly. And yet I find myself doing exactly what he told me I should be doing. Writing. I hope I make him proud.
So you see, from November through December, our lives could be very solemn. But they’re not. We celebrate these two men and everything they gave us. They couldn’t be more opposite of each other but both have had an incredible impact on my life. I wouldn’t trade that for the world.
Thank you for reading….it’s a personal side to me that I don’t often share beyond my closest family & friends. But I felt I needed to let others know how grand having two dads really is.
Now you’ve met the five most influential people in my life. My wish is that you, too, have at least one of these souls to enrich your life…to guide you.