I’m lucky to have had my dad. Growing up he taught me I could do anything. Anything. He taught by example more than words.
We moved around a lot. When people asked me why, I would just say because my dad was president of this company and then he was president of a bigger company and another bigger company. That means I had many different bedrooms. As the only girl, I always had my own room. With each house, my dad and I would sit down and design my new space. And then he would build my furniture. Whether it was the cute little shelf on the side of my desk to hold my clock radio or a full blown wall unit to hold my stereo, it was always a joint effort.
When I started saving for my first car, my dad offered to match my savings dollar for dollar. I saved for years. One day he drove up in a bright red Mustang with a V8 engine. He might have been even more excited than I was. I asked him how much it cost – I just wanted to make sure I had enough money. Amazingly, it cost the exact amount of my savings…
My dad was an incredibly generous man – especially to family. Always family.
My dad was a real meat and potatoes kind of guy. Much to the chagrin of my mom, we never had to eat vegetables growing up, unless you count corn and iceberg lettuce. I think I was almost thirty before I ate asparagus for the first time.
When I was in college, my dad got me a summer job at his company. But I didn’t work for my dad, I worked for his partner. And I didn’t even really work for him, I worked for his secretary: truly the meanest person I’ve ever worked for. After three days I came home crying and told my dad I wanted to quit.
I can still picture us sitting there. I don’t really remember his words, I just remember the feeling. Remember I said he taught me I could do anything? I think that was the gist of that conversation: a knowing that I had what it took to stick it out. A belief in me that I could. And I did. I stayed the entire summer.
I never heard my dad say an unkind word about anyone. Ever. It would have been really easy for him to agree with me that the secretary was evil – because, well, she was – but instead he focused on encouraging ME to grow.
I had my own company for 17 years. My years in business were shaped by what I call dadisms. When I called my dad for advice, he would always ask me what I wanted the outcome to be and usually that alone would guide me to the right answer. He would also say ‘sometimes good enough is perfect.’ As a truly type A perfectionist, that took me a lot of years to understand, but once it did, it eliminated a lot of stress.
Probably my favorite was when he’d tell me ‘A Good Plan is one you can do.’ I am a planner by nature and as I’d formulate my idea, I’d hear his words and see if my elaborate scheme actually fell into the category of one I could do. If not, I would adjust accordingly.
As proud as I knew he was of my business success, I know he was equally as proud when I decided to close my company to be a full time mom to my three boys. I always felt supported in my decisions. My dad loved me for exactly who I am.
My dad was really funny – there were so many family celebrations where I laughed until I cried. I’m fortunate to still have men in my life who can keep that part of my dad’s legacy alive. My husband Rich, my son Harry, and my brother Dean all have that ability to make me laugh until my belly hurts.
It was an honor to grow up and witness the special love story between my mom and my dad all the way until his very last breath. They were high school sweethearts. They were together for over sixty years. It was even deeper than love. They liked each other. They were always a united front.
We all knew growing up that we couldn’t go to one and get a different answer from the other. Usually, if I asked my dad he would say go ask your mother and vice versa. They weren’t pawning me off to avoid making the decision, they truly always agreed in front of us.
They respected each other. They hugged and kissed in front of us. They laughed easily and often.
I know that I have been happily married to my high school sweetheart for almost 35 years because of all the lessons I learned watching my parents love each other.
I appreciate all that you taught me dad. I will continue to make you proud of me. I miss you already.
My dad’s funeral will be Friday, May 18 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, 1775 Grove Street, Glenview, IL 60025 at 10:00 am. The Arch Bishop of Milwaukee, Jerome Listecki will be celebrating the Mass. All are welcome.