A time presented itself for my Mom, my brother and me to reminisce about my Dad. My brother is an awesome storyteller with a knack for remembering all the small details that make a story really spectacular. He has a gift that inspires you to listen and hang on every sentence waiting for the punchline. On this night we needed a moment where laughter broke through the seriousness of the day.
“Dad was a coach… it was the only year he coached me. He was traveling a lot and back then travel wasn’t like it is today. He always tried to make it for the games. So there we were…. It was like the 6th inning and the last play of the game. A play at home. Jeff Nau calls the guy safe and our team gets the win. The opposing coach comes around the backfield – and is suddenly in Jeff Nau’s face. He’s big. Bob Turnberger big – like 250 pounds – big arms. Jeff Nau is all of 14 years old. Skinny. All of us on the bench and on the field were horrified. I remember being horrified. It was at Medill Middle school. The field was like sunken so all the parents stood on the hill. I didn’t even know Dad was there. Like I said, he had traveled that week. Normally he would have been on the bench with us kids. All of a sudden here comes Dad. Loosened Tie. Rolled up sleeves. Still in his suit. He comes around the back side. I think, oh my, that’s my Dad. He gets in the Bob Turnberger guys face. The place comes to a complete lull. Like any minute we are waiting for a fight – saying to ourselves there is going to be a fight. Watch this! And Dad said to this guy – I will never forget the words – ‘I’ve seen how tough you are with a 14-year-old – I want to see how tough you are with a man standing right in front of you.’ From that day forward Johnny Fiorio, Raymond Simpson, all my friends from Newark Delaware decided not to mess with me. I remember it like I saw it yesterday.”
My Dad is just that way. Always at his best in the worst of situations. He can be devilishly charming and equally irascible. He would give the shirt off his back (and has) to someone in need. You can count on him in thick and thin. And when the times are thick you expect him to don his cape and fight the good fight. He makes you feel safe and loved. The great protector.
On this night I am thinking of how lucky I am for him to be my Dad. To have my brother and my mother beside me as we take up the fight for him this time.
I love you Dad.