WOW. That's the first word that comes to my mind when I think about honoring my father. He was an unbelievable Man, Husband, Father and Friend. Someone asked me if I called my father today, and man do I wish I could. I was only 18 when I lost him. I'm going to take this post to honor him and highlight the 18 years I was lucky enough to have with him.
He named me Colleen because he wanted me to have the most Irish name in creation. He was very proud to be Irish.
He demoted himself at his job because he was traveling, and did not want to leave my Mother home with 4 kids by herself.
He taught me how to swim, dive and ride a 2 wheeler. I can vividly see these moments in my mind. You were not allowed to step foot on our pool deck without a life vest if you couldn't pass the "swim test". He had a plentiful supply of life jackets.
He raised his daughters to have their own dreams and goals, and to never expect someone else to take care of them.
He made us all go to work the MINUTE we were old enough. We worked for him at our family business. We owned a 7-11 for 12 years. While all of my friends were living carefree and hanging out after school, I had to work from 3-6. AND he paid me FOUR DOLLARS AN HOUR. And said I wasn't worth the four dollars because all I did was eat candy and drink slurpees! But he was molding us, and my siblings and I are all extremely hard workers to this day.
We went on the same family vacation every summer, and stayed in the same cabin.
One Easter morning we woke up to the gift of about a dozen baby chics and ducks.
He got us a horse. When I used to tell kids we had a horse, they thought I was lying.
We were not permitted to have televisions in our rooms so we would all sit together every night to watch T.V. Jessica Fletcher was my idea of prime time T.V.
He had amazing graduation parties for all of us.
He stood on the porch, smacking a bat against his hand as my prom date came to pick me up.
He made my siblings (I didn't make it this far) save money for their first car, and he matched what they saved dollar for dollar, even though he could've bought them the car on his own. Once again, he was molding and teaching.
We faithfully went to see his mother every other Sunday in Queens in an itty bitty apartment that she refused to move out of, but he had to show her that respect, even though we suffered through being packed like sardines and channels 2-10 every Sunday because we couldn't roam the streets of Queens.
He always got us 1 "special gift" from him for Christmas that even my mother didn't know about.
He bought me my very first dozen roses for Valentines Day.
When I was going through my "I don't want to be a 4 eyes anymore" stage, he sat me down and said "Colleen, please don't get contacts. Your glasses are a part of you, they are a huge piece of who you are. (I have had them since age 2) You are beautiful in your glasses. I can't imagine my baby without glasses on." Because of that statement, I have never and will never consider contacts again.
We were FORBIDDEN to quit a job unless we: 1. Already had a new one, and 2. Gave 2 weeks notice. Another valuable lesson of character.
Were were forbidden to call each other names or talk down to each other. The words "Jerk" and "Dummy" were on the same level as swearing in our house.
When he got sick, he wanted to come home. No hospital. He did, and in addition to a nurse, we all took care of him. I used to wash and blow dry his hair, and he would tell me I was burning his head!
He told my mother he wanted a one day service, so people weren't grieving over him for days on end. Well, I'm still grieving 16 years later. He also said he wanted a closed casket because all people do at funerals is critique the deceased person. And he didn't want people staring at him. "He looks good, he looks bad, look how thin he got, look how swollen he is"....I can laugh at that now.
Shortly before he died, he called me in his room, and told me not to go to the cemetery. He said cemeteries are cold and dreary and scary, and he wouldn't be there anyway, to just talk to him from my room, and he would hear me.
After he passed away, he came to me in a dream. He was standing in the corner of our living room, healthy and handsome. He hadn't stood up for the 7 months that he was sick because the cancer had spread and crushed his spine. He sat me down on the couch, and said to me "Do you like me better this way?" And I said "Yes", and he said "Okay, then I'll stay". He also said "I know you wanted to tell me that you loved me". (When my mother woke me in the middle of the night to "Say goodbye to Daddy", by the time I got down there, he was already gone). When I woke up, I expected him to be there. I was obviously grieving and not thinking clearly. Then I realized what the dream meant. "Do you like me better this way?" Meant...standing up, healthy, happy, at peace, in Heaven, with God, and resting. That dream gave me the peace that I needed to get through each day.
This is such a small piece of who my Father was. He IS a legend to this day. My Mother's one and only love, and THE BEST FATHER ever created. I Love You Daddy, and I still miss you everyday.