<warning: long post > Posting today since I'll be in NJ this weekend.February 2 marks 40 years since my father passed away. Not a day goes by that I don't think of my father; think of what might have been or other endless possibilities. When my father passed away, he left my mother <30> to raise three kids on her own. Older brother Tom <5>, myself <3> and my sister BJ; not even born yet. BJ was born 23 days after my father's accident. It was a Saturday and my father had gone out shoe shopping alone. Back in '63, the cars were built like tanks. My father drove a '57 Chevy Biscayne. He never came back that fateful day. I was too young to have memories of what life was like having a father around.My mother would tell my brother and I how my father would take us to the train tracks to watch the trains roll by. The train tracks go through the middle of town and to this day, can roll by for quite some time not caring about traffic. Every time I go back to visit my mother, there is a good chance of being stopped by the train before finally arriving at her house. Which now, will no longer be the case since she has sold the house. I won't miss the house, just thankful for the memories while she/we lived there. I won't need to cross the tracks to visit her in her apartment, but may have to visit the tracks when I'm in town anyway. Aunts and uncles over the years have shared their memories of my father <the youngest one in his family>. Heard some stories of his life in NYC, but never got to hear any of his Navy stories. I've heard various stories of what may have caused the accident to happen, but it doesn't change the outcome. He was traveling on rte. 17 in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ – and that is where his life ended at the tender age of 37. From what I've been told, my mother was informed of his death via telephone. Prior to revealing the sad news, she was asked to get a neighbor. I can't even imagine what it was like for her to deal with the death of her husband while 9 months pregnant with two boys running around the house.My mother is a very strong lady. She managed to raise her three kids in the 60s with social security as the main source of income. Try doing that in 2003! My mother tried to be there for each of us. For young men growing up, there are lots of questions that need to be asked of someone you trust…preferably of a male figure. Some of those questions went unanswered; there was no way a young boy was even considering asking his mother those questions. In trying to reach out and communicate, a male neighbor was asked to show us *men* how to use a shaver. Had it not been for the neighbor, I may be sitting here with a beard…but the cleanest shaven legs a guy could have ;)Still, some questions could not be asked of a neighbor…so it took longer to learn and discover what many may have been told in a father-to-son talk. Although I have always felt his presence, even as I write these words, it's not the same as having him here to talk about every topic under the sun. What little memories my brother and I have of our father don't compare to the fact my sister never even got to meet him.As a family, we took quite a few vacations over the summers. One aunt had asked me if I enjoyed the traveling <destinations like south Jersey, Peekskill, NY> or would rather have my father around, which could cut down on the visiting we did. I was young at the time she asked, my Nana was shocked my aunt even asked the question…without hesitation, I replied I'd rather have my father. My Nana was very proud that day. She was always there for us. Kids tend to play their mother against their father, we just Nana to fill that role. We could do no wrong in her eyes.Some kids have one, or both parents pass away – and it's always too soon. Some kids have one or both parents that are still alive…but the parent(s) have given up on their kids for various reasons. To this day I don't know which is worse, having a father who died too young or one who is alive and doesn't keep in contact with his kids.DD will be 11 in May. I try to be the best father I know how to be. Except I don't have any reference to 'this is how my dad did it'. It's very important for me to do my best to be there for DD. Eventually, like all kids, she'll realize how lucky she was to have both parents. In some ways it's ironic to have DD, there are things I cannot discuss with her for two simple reasons 1) no experience 2) she doesn't even want me to know about the changes she's experiencing. So that job falls to DW, who gladly fills me in to keep me up to date. There are some developments that do not require DW to update me on, as my main concern is when the boys start to notice. DW is here for DD, if not, I would do my best to explain things or at the very least…get someone more qualified to explain things…to both of us.Had our DS not been taking during a pregnancy <long story>, I would find myself filling the shoes that weren't there for me. Again, I would have done my best – just no scale to compare how I was doing. I've always felt a father/son relationship may have been tougher.Another hard reminder is my own anniversary of being in a major auto accident 21 years ago on January 30. DW and I were only engaged at the time. On another board we were discussing angels recently, and I know my father was there not only to watch over me – but to help my mother deal with the frightful memories of his passing. My accident occurred around 1:30am that Saturday. Skipping most of the details<another long story>: I was asked for a phone number to contact someone after we arrived at the hospital. Knowing how close the anniversary of my father's death was to my accident I didn't want to give them my mother's number at 2am. No choice in the matter. My mother received the call then called back to ensure it wasn't a prank by someone <for the same reason I didn't want to give them her number>. My mother had no clue where this hospital was, my brother just happened to get home when she got off the phone. Together they came to the hospital. I felt the presence of my father that day and perhaps other angels, as we were extremely lucky that day.Reflecting on 40 years of missing my father has me wishing that every father reading this will evaluate how much time they were spending with their kids. Especially doing fun things with your kids. You never know when it will be your time to pass on, so be there for your kids now before it's too late. This also applies to those fathers who may be separated from their kids due to divorce or otherwise, work around any obstacle if need be – just be there for your kids.For those *kids* who do not want any contact with their parents for any reason, think hard about those reasons. Some may be valid, but one day it will be too late.Odee-grew up thinking I wouldn't make it to 38, each day is a blessing
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