A few days ago I asked my family what their all-time favorite story was about my father. If you know my dad, there are many, many stories to be told. Almost instantly though, Melanie came up with a story that had us all laughing and relishing in the memory of the man my father was.
My dad had hip surgery a few years ago. After leaving the hospital, he went into a rehab facility in Haverstraw to help him heal, which just so happened to be close to the Elks Lodge. One night, a couple of my dad’s friends (whose names have yet to be revealed), conspired with my dad to break him out. My dad snuck down the hallway, (although, unbeknownst to him, his break out was caught on the security cameras), met the unnamed conspirators, propped open the back door to secure his ability to sneak back in, and proceeded to go party at the Elks. He later returned, snuck back into his room, and even brought with him some leftover pizza.
I think the reason we all love this story so much is because it is a true account of everything my father was.
My dad liked to do things his way. Sometimes these may not have been the wisest decisions, and may have even gotten him into some trouble, but he always stayed true to his heart. I can remember him reminding me at the pivotal moments throughout my life that I only had myself to answer to, that I needed to look inside and always do what was right for me.
My dad was the life of the party and his smile would light up the room. I always felt like my dad knew some secret humor about life and living that many of us had not yet been let in on or figured out. He didn’t take things so seriously, and truly made life fun… even if that meant breaking out of rehab with a brand new hip!
My dad sincerely relished in being around the people he loved. If you know my dad, you know that he had hundreds of friends. He was like a magnet, attracting those around him. He was there for you in the good times and the bad and he gave of himself in a way that encouraged those around him to do the same. Being connected to others made him happy and that happiness was such a large part of who he was.
Most of all, my dad was the strongest person I have ever known. As a father, he had this way of always knowing all the things not being said, yet allowing me to find my own way through. Now that I am a parent, I understand just how much strength this task actually takes. He would, somehow, hold space with a reserved and subtle strength that was effortless and consistent. He also possessed a physical strength that sometimes seemed superhuman. I’m sure many of us have heard about the time he got electrocuted on the job and experienced nothing more than his hair being burned off his body.
As a child, my father was my hero, and as an adult, my father is my guiding force and inspiration. He has been, and always will be, the wind beneath my wings and the reason I am able to fly.
I ask of all of you here today to honor the legacy my father leaves behind by staying true to your hearts, finding the fun in living, allowing your smile to brighten up the world, discovering your own strength, and relishing in the people you love.
Dad, from all of us to you… We love you and we will miss you every moment of every day to follow. We know you are here, an angel watching over us, a bright and beautiful light shining down from the heavens.