The thing I remember most about my Dad was his humble, compassionate nature. He was the kind of person that would give the shirt off of his back to a stranger if it looked like they needed it. The rare few times I witnessed my Dad lose his temper typically involved a clear cut case of an obvious injustice, for which, he was never afraid to wade in and right a wrong. Okay, there was a rare temper loss instance when Notre Dame beat the University of Michigan after a poor call by the referee during a last minute play that gave Notre Dame an undeserved victory. As a result, Dad gently tossed his soft slipper at the TV set, but that was definitely a warranted response to this situation.
As a kid growing up, I could always count on my Father to give the best advice for most of life’s situations. Since I loved team sports, particularly baseball, football and swimming, I could always count on his presence at every sporting event. It didn’t matter how many miles he needed to travel to be there. Come hell or high-water, he would never miss a game or meet. It gave me the strength and confidence to succeed when I knew that I could count on seeing his softly smiling face in the stands above. He was my mentor, coach and chief athletic trainer. If I was struggling on the pitcher’s mound, he’d quietly make his way to the dugout after a tough inning was over and give me his sage advice. It never failed to boost my success when followed.
The greatest gift my Dad gave to me and my siblings, one brother and two sisters (all younger), was the loving encouragement to independently find our own path in life. Through his parenting method of “guided discovery” he would give us the tools and support, but let us succeed or fail on our own no matter what direction we chose. As a result of this method of nurturing, I have had the rare opportunity to live an incredibly gratifying life.
My Dad passed away early Friday morning, the 27th day of May, at the age of 83. Surely I will miss him. I’m even more certain he will not be forgotten. His life had been made eternal by the multitude of positive lessons he taught me, family and friends met along the way. His example of living independently, fully and passionately has been shared with my children, other family members and friends throughout my life. Some of these folks will pass the same positive life lessons on to a multitude of others that they encounter along life’s path. It’s the best version of “eternal life” that I can ever imagine.