|1949 Bowman #205|
"They're all bums," would have been Dad's assessment of the 2012 Phillies season.
"Trade 'em all, fire Charlie and Ruben and bring back Bowa," he would have said before adding a few moments later, "Of course I have no idea what I'm talking about." Then he'd most likely give me a mischievous smile and perhaps even burst into song.
Dad passed away one year ago today. And it was hard some days over this past year to keep it together.
Opening day was particularly rough, as was the night of the All-Star Game. Baseball aside, I missed him at Christmas, riding Peter Pan's Flight at Disney World, at every family get-together, on the boardwalk this summer, on Doug's first day of Kindergarten and on countless other occasions.
I think about my Dad every day, and there have been particular moments over the past year when I can hear his voice with such clarity that it actually feels as if we’re having a conversation. I know that everyone grieves differently and part of my healing process has involved smiling at particular moments and imagining how my Dad would have reacted.
Without fail, at the end of every family get-together, Dad would say to no one in particular, "Boy, I love this stuff. This was really great, you know?" I've heard myself saying that out loud this year and whenever I do, I hear his voice and he's there.
He’s also there with me whenever Doug, his first grandson, asks me to play catch with him in our backyard. And you better believe he was there with me when Doug and I attended our first baseball card show together recently. Doug is only five, but he knows what he wants. Doug wants to play soccer and tee ball and he wants to learn to be a better swimmer and a better reader and he wants to be a police officer when he grows up because he wants to help catch bad guys. And by God, I’ll support him 100% in whatever endeavor he chooses to pursue because that's exactly what my Dad did for me.
My Dad is there with me whenever Ben, his second grandson, recites the alphabet for the 100th time in a row. Ben is only two but he loves letters and numbers and spelling, and I can practically see his little wheels turning whenever he figures out how and why certain letters come together to make words he recognizes. He's got a brain that works very methodically (like his Dad's) and his fits of sudden laughter and joy whenever he learns something new would have thrilled my Dad.
And my Dad is there with me whenever Molly, the granddaughter he never met and my favorite niece, smiles. She lights up a room with her smile and she's destined to break many a suitor's heart in the coming years. As she grows up, I'm going to bore her (and her cousins) with stories of growing up on 12th Street. Her Pop-Pop and Mimi provided her Mom and me with an amazing childhood and like it not, we're going to tell the same stories over and over again about Christmas mornings and Disney trips and the Chocolatetown Motel.
Doug, Ben and Molly are going to grow up without their Pop-Pop, but they'll know him. They'll know him through the funny stories I'll tell, the happy memories I'll share and the qualities of being a good father I learned from him that I'm trying my best to emulate.
I've said it before, and I'll never stop saying it: Thank you Dad, and you're very much missed.