I’m not going to pretend this short tribute can convey how important my father is to me. His passing is the most tragic and impactful event in my life. Like most people I’ve had other tragic events. It took years for me to come to terms with loosing my father.
It’s not that he was my best friend.
He was my father.
A father who loved me deeply and showed it in so many ways. I was blessed the evening before he was taken suddenly by a massive heart attack. My wife, Judi, and I were at my parents’ for dinner. Near the end of the evening I went to the local corner store to buy a fuse for their apartment’s breaker panel. It was no big deal, but it prompted my father to do something before we left for the evening. He put his hands on my shoulders and said, “You’re a good son, Steve. You’re always taking good care of me. I love you, and I’m proud of you.”
He said those types of things to his children on a regular basis. He loved me and my siblings, Manon, Joanne, and Rick. We all felt it.
My father had a way of making everyone feel special. Part of it was his genuine interest in people’s lives. He wanted to know how people were doing, what they were up to. He cared. People felt it.
My father was special. I don’t say this because he was my father. I was told it many times by others before his death, and especially after his death. He touched people’s lives in special ways. He was loved and respected.
I first discovered this when I was sixteen years old. I had a summer job at the small cardboard manufacturing plant where my father worked. There were about two hundred plant employees on three shifts. They all knew him. He was not a supervisor or in management. He was an ordinary plant worker, like most of them. But he was, by far, the most respected man in that small plant. He was a legend, as one of his colleagues told me. They loved him. They saw him as a man of integrity. He didn’t swear. He didn’t lie. He didn’t gossip. He listened to their stories and cared about their lives. When he passed, five years after his retirement from the plant, over a hundred employees came to pay their respects. In addition to hundreds of others whose lives he had touched.
My father loved me.
Interestingly enough, he didn’t say those words to me until I was seventeen years old. He came back from a weekend spiritual retreat one Sunday evening, took me aside and apologized for not telling me how much he loved me. He was quite emotional. I was moved. I had always felt his love. He had always been there for me.
I played a lot of hockey in my youth and my father was always my driver and biggest fan. He drove me to my 6 AM practices before his shift at the plant and came to all my evening games after a long day on the job. He was always there for me.
Like the story I told about the evening before he passed, I could tell dozens of similar stories about how he expressed his love to me. I knew I was loved. I’ve often said that my father, next to my wife, is the person who has made feel the most loved. There are many others who love me and have loved me in my lifetime, for them I’m grateful. But my father’s love is special.
I have tried to love my children in the same way my father loved me. I’ve tried to make sure they felt my love. I’m proud to see that my grandchildren are loved by their fathers as I was.
By the world’s standards his legacy is of little significance. But to those who value family and love, his legacy is immeasurable. I’m proud to say he is my father. His love enabled his legacy to live through me, through my children, and one day through my grandchildren and their children.
My father’s legacy is a legacy of love.
I miss you Dad.