A Letter to Dad

Dear Dad,

I can’t believe it has been 16 years since your passing. It was Father’s Day 1997 when Mom called to relay the news that you breathed your last breath. Uncle Jim G. was so mad because he had to leave his vacation in Yellowstone Park! Ha! But I knew the aunts and uncles would never miss your funeral. Vacation or not, they would be there….

I was not upset that you passed on Father’s Day. It actually caused me to smile because I could imagine you saying from heaven, “NOW you’ll never forget me!”. But truly Dad it would be impossible to do so.

Dad and I
Dad and I

Because you, like me, were an oldest child and it was you who stepped up, was responsible and felt the pressure. You made your presence known in a big way and I learned from your example to be a person who honors their word.

Jim and I mentioned the auto auction the other day, the one you used to take me to occasionally. For a few brief moments I could smell the sauerkraut on the hotdogs that you would buy us in the cafeteria. Mom would NEVER make anything like that at home but you introduced me to sauerkraut and I have loved it ever since!

I am grateful that you and I got to work together at the car dealership for those few precious years. You trusted me enough to leave me in charge when you and mom went away on vacations. That meant much to me and taught me great leadership skills.

Someone I was with last night mentioned Kennywood Park and I was again taken back to the times when you and mom would accompany Jim and I and the kids for a day at the amusement park. You and mom would walk around, eat all the great carnival food with us (their cotton candy was fabulous!) and watch the kids ride the roller coasters. I didn’t know then but I do know now what precious times those were.

I am trying to pay attention to those things I do lately which at first glance may seem insignificant, but could become life long good memories for Michelene, John and Gavin. The day will come when they will remember this and that about me and I want those moments to be fond remembrances, like the ones I have of you.

I am more and more aware of how short life really is. I try to remember how precious each day is and to have gratitude for all my blessings.

Happy Father’s Day Dad!!

One of my favorite pictures!
One of my favorite pictures!
Join me on my graceful journey.

5 Things My Dad Taught Me

Boy, was he handsome!

What can I say about my Dad? He was many things to me- father, role model, confidante and best friend. In my earliest recollections of him and in pictures, he was a happy go lucky guy, a huge presence with a big voice and a firm handshake. Everyone knew him as “Big Mike”. He had many friends, he loved to dance and he knew how to have a good time.

Dad was 6’4″ tall, a BIG GUY and he and my mom together raised three daughters. This, I think, must have been his worst nightmare at times, as his parents were Greek immigrants and Greeks, in my opinion, are STRICT with their daughters! He was no exception to this fanatical rule.

Here are some special things I remember about my dad. When he finally gave me permission to go to the prom in eleventh grade, there were tears in his eyes (initially he told me NO), he brought a football to the hospital when my son was born (remember, he had three daughters), he took me to car auctions where we ate hot dogs and sauerkraut (my mom hated sauerkraut and never made it!). Also, he loved chocolate covered peanuts and bushels of hard shell crabs.

Here are the 5 most important things my Dad taught me:

1. Love people for who they are. My Dad sold cars made in Japan (Nissans) when they first came to the USA. He was a top turret gunner in the Air Force during WWII but he held no prejudices.

2. Live Life to the fullest. Work hard but play hard and enjoy yourself. Dad loved to invite his buddies over for loud Greek music, shots of Ouzo and midnight dancing in the living room.

3. Have integrity. I sold cars with him for a few years. Once, I made a bottom line deal on a car and the buyers pulled out a newspaper ad for $100 off any car. I was ticked. My Dad said, “Honor it”.

4. There is no substitution for good salesmanship. Dad would look people in the eye, compliment them and always find something of common interest to talk about. To this day, my sisters and I share this character trait and I know we got it from him.

5. Do what you say. If he told you he was going to be somewhere at a certain time, he was there. He did not go back on a promise. He taught us to be on time, be responsible and STEP UP.

Dad passed away 15 years ago on Father’s Day, 1997. When I tell people this it always brings forth a sad comment. But at that time, I saw his humor in choosing that day to go. I could just picture him saying, “You’ll not forget me now!” Truly Dad, that would be impossible.

Join me on my graceful journey.