Today is the second anniversary of my father's death; it doesn't seem possible that it's been two years since I last saw him or heard his voice. I miss him every day, but milestones like today tug extra hard on my heartstrings. I'd like to honor him today by once again sharing this piece I wrote last year on the first anniversary of his passing.
I love you, Dad; you're never forgotten. You'll always be my #1 guy.
Yesterday was the first anniversary of my father’s passing. I loaded a shovel into my car and took off to the cemetery in bitter cold temperatures. When I arrived, as I knew it would be necessary, I had to dig out the headstone from under a significant snowfall. When I’d finished the job, the sun came out and melted the remaining bits of ice and snow. I stood there, totally alone, in a beam of bright light, talking to my dad. It felt good and peaceful and I was glad no one else was around to spoil the moment.
Before I left, I stood facing his headstone, a beautiful, large rose–colored granite stone with it’s precisely carved face, and realized anyone who passed by would know nothing about my dad other than his name, his birth date, and the date he died. And if they walked around to the backside of the stone (which they wouldn’t in the deep snow) they’d know he was a USMC veteran because there is a beautiful plaque mounted there that says so.
But there was so much more to my dad than that.
He was the only son of Italian immigrants from Sicily (Palermo, to be exact). He grew up as a city kid who was the apple of his mother’s eye. She always called him “Sammie” and it used to make me giggle to hear her say it.
He was very popular with the girls, as evidenced by the many love letters written in his school yearbooks. He was popular with the guys as well; somewhat of a class clown, or so I’ve been told. Surprisingly athletic for a small guy, he played basketball, baseball, and football in high school and was a fan of every sport you could ever imagine. He wanted to be a coach (go figure), but was not able to go to college after my grandfather became ill and he had to go to work to help support the family.
Then he was drafted into the Korean War. When he came home, his best friend's girlfriend introduced him to her roommate at nursing school. They hit it off, and he asked her to marry him after a few months of dating. She refused, saying she wanted to stay single for a while; she was only twenty-one. Rejected, they broke up, and a few months later he was back to give her another chance to say yes. This time she did.
They went on to raise a family of four daughters. My dad taught us all how to swim, ice-skate, toboggan, play softball, ride a bike, fly a kite…if it was outdoors and active, count him in!
Food was a big part of my family memories: trips to the bakery to buy fresh bread and dough for homemade pizzas, prosciutto, and olive salad from a nearby deli, Sunday lunches on the picnic table under an enormous fringed umbrella in the backyard, my dad grilling steaks outside, homemade Mexican sundaes (our favorite) consumed while watching TV together at night after a swim in the pool, homemade donuts sugared inside brown paper bags, the “pig-outs” we’d have the night before Lent began when my dad would always give up his beloved sweets…it was all so good!
He remained overly protective of us as long as he lived—and eventually of our own children as well. He was tough, strict, opinionated, smart, funny, loving…
And every day I wonder if he knows how much he means to me and how I treasure the many wonderful memories he gifted me. So, if I could write an epitaph for my dad it would simply say:
“Family, laughter, love—and by the way, what’s for dinner?”
If you could write an epitaph for a loved one or even for yourself, what would it say, and why?
As always, I look forward to your submissions.