Three years ago tonight, my Dad passed away after a brave battle with cancer. Although I remember and miss him every single day, when the anniversary of his passing approaches, those memories seem to intensify...especially the memories of the hell he went through the last few weeks he was alive. It's as if I can hit rewind in my memory and it plays back...complete with the helpless and sad feelings. For a guy that did so much good for others, from benefit gigs with his band to giving people years to pay back what they owed him (he did that with me...THANKS, DAD!!) to donating his construction/bulldozing services to those in need, he sure went through hell once he got sick. Not fair.....
I try not to dwell on the past, but since I feel the past is a big part of who someone is, it happens. I'm fortunate to have so many great memories of my Dad. While the pain of missing him is intense and doesn't seem to go away, the memories of all the great times certainly make me feel good.
There are so many emotional triggers. It might be during a family birthday celebration and knowing he's not there in person to make me laugh. It might be working in the garage at home and remembering when "Dad said this" or "Dad did that" or something like that. It might be a ride in the van to a band gig, and thinking back to some joke he told (that's not printable). It might be during a particular song on stage and remembering the beautiful harmonies he'd play and/or sing. It might be when my band is planning a big bus trip to Cleveland, Ohio and we're going to play out there, knowing full well how much Dad enjoyed going there and playing as well as listening to all the great entertainment from polka legends....like Walter Ostanek, Joey Miskulin, Joey Tomsick, Bob Kravos, Mark Habat, Steve Meisner, Ronnie Sluga, Eddie Rodick Sr & Jr., and so many more. It might just happen out of the blue, too. Can't explain it and don't want to even try.
Some people know a lot about my Dad while other do not. He only had an eighth grade education, yet want on to be a successful farmer, business man, and musician. IN FACT, HE WAS THE FIRST PERSON IN NEW YORK STATE TO BE INDUCTED INTO THE NATIONAL CLEVELAND-STYLE POLKA HALL OF FAME!!! How awesome is that?!?!?!
Anyway, as I reflect back on three years ago tonight, I'll try not to ball my eyes out (although they're wet as I type this), will continue to cherish all the great memories I have of him. I have so much to thank him for.....from his work ethic to his fondness of helping others and beyond.
The photo below was taken November 29, 2008 in Cleveland, Ohio. It turned out to be the last time my Dad went out there for a Thanksgiving Polka Weekend. I'm so glad I drove him out there for that event.