Saturday, September 09, 2017


Dad wasn't a very fancy man, didn't even finish high school. He didn't even live to see his 75ft birthday, dying from lung cancer. He was humble, and I truly believe he didn't have a mean bone in his body.

Dad loved his grandchildren. When his first grandchild had her birthday on the 17th of the month, for the next 11 months, on the 17th, we had to gather to sing ‘Happy Birthday' and celebrate for the next 11 months as it was a ritual!

Every Saturday night I think of Dad to this day. He insisted on a steak dinner on Saturday nights, and on Sundays, pasta. A big bowl of soup on Monday nights, and on Sunday evenings, he would send us out to the deli for cold cuts on the corner of Somers Street and Rockaway Avenue. Dad would then make the best sandwiches I ever had, with left over salad and mayo. Dad was the master. But come those summer evenings! Then his genius really took hold! He'd get a tall glass and fill it with cream soda, vanilla ice cream, and cantaloupe pieces. Sometimes he'd add a little milk and chocolate. God, I miss those days!

Mom was the religious person in the house, the reason I never got arrested, but unfortunately, Dad would get a hold of me and re-taught me a prayer or two. For example, the "Our Father" Dad rearranged the pray where we said: "Give us this day our daily bread" to: "Give us a steak and our daily bread." I prayed it that way almost into High School!

He was a great storyteller, stories about my grandparents and his childhood, about people who had nicknames and why they had them and had a wonderful sense of humor. He had a remote control and would be delegated to the bedroom to watch TV. Mom would watch TV in the den. When she nodded off, he would sneak to the doorway and put on the ball game. She would wake up and wonder what that was doing on her TV. Dad would say something about Mom to get her riled up, or they would tease each other, and even a bit of playful fisty cuffs would occur, with Dad running away for his life!

Every time I watch a ballgame, I think of Dad. He took me to Ebbets Field to watch the Brooklyn Dodgers play. We would watch the games on TV and he loved Jackie Robinson and the Italian boy, Carl Furillo, and all the other Dodgers. He taught me to love the game and tried to make a pitcher out of me once. One day, he got a rubber ball and squatted down in front of my Grandmother's house, and told me to pitch. I threw the first pitch, Dad missed catching it, and smack into his face it goes! "OK, that's enough for now!" said Dad.

Helping people was Dad's passion, and taking me along to assist him was part of his gift giving. We did almost everything together, including working together when I was in high school and college. He would help widows and people down on their luck who he thought needed some kind of help. He lent money and my time very freely. But he taught me that no matter how bad things were, they could be worse, just look at so and so.
Looks like one of his cars!

Like I said, he didn't have much, never owned a new car until late in life, his last car. He got his dream house, finally, and saw a couple of his kids get an education and was blessed with a lot of grandchildren. I named my first son after him because I wanted the name to last another generation, and somehow I knew it would make him happy, if only he lived to see his grandson's achievements, and his name roll by on the credits of the Big Bang Theory, there would have been no living with him. He would have adored my daughter-in-law Courtney and of course my beautiful grandchild, Darby Shea. He loved my daughter, Ellen, giving her attention and amusing her, and then when my last son Michael was born, I gave Dad a picture of Mike that he hung in his living room next to the front entrance, and every day going to work, he would pat it and say: "Hi Mike!"

I really hope he is up there, sitting in front of a TV with one of his favorite snacks, watching the Brooklyn Dodgers have a big inning, satisfied that his life was one of the good works and positive things that have occurred, that all his mistakes are understood and forgiven, that he was the only father I could have ever had and loved.

Happy Birthday, Pop!


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