My father is the greatest man who ever existed. He is my hero, my mentor and my inspiration. For 20 years, my father rushed into burning buildings for a living, and also as a volunteer. He now gives his time endlessly to his community in a variety of ways, all of them as a volunteer. He is an unselfish, outspoken, funny man. He is looked upon by everyone that meets him with admiration and respect. He taught me about self respect and self reliance and the power of family. He gave me my warped sense of humor and the desire to never ever grow up. He was there for me whenever I needed him, and still is. He has stood by me through all my bad choices and terrible judgment, and never once abandoned me because I went against his wishes. We are opposite in so many ways - mostly politics and religion - and he can be a stubborn, hard headed mule when it comes to his views, but he always hears me out in the end. He is, at 60, still playing hard and living to the fullest. His buddies call him the world's oldest teenager. He is the most loving and caring grandfather to my children, even if he does spoil them rotten, and he is a caring, generous husband to my mother. He would give you the shirt off his back and the last dime in his pocket if that would make you happy. And he would never ever complain about it. He curses like a sailor and has been telling us dirty jokes since we were old enough to understand them. He bought me my first beer and was doing shots with me on my 18th birthday. One Christmas, he gave me and the kids a trip to Disneyworld, all expenses paid, as our gift. He gave me his car when my ex left me without one. He is a magnificent chef, a talented bricklayer and an honest politician. He is a powerful man in the community, and people automatically throw me respect when I mention that he is my father. They never fail to mention how much they admire him. He has bailed me out of trouble countless times, so many times I didn't even know about until after my divorce. He never questioned, never prodded, never forced me to do the things he wanted me to do. He would just tell me that he was always there for me, no matter what my choice was. And he was. And he still is. I strive to be the parent he has been to me. I yearn to be the person he is. To have even an ounce of his integrity would be sufficient. Happy Father's Day, dad.
Today, on Father's Day, 3 firefighters, all fathers, have lost thier lives. 50 others were injured, some critically. Some of these men were friends of my cousin, who is a Lieutenant in Queens, NY. I am going to call my dad and tell him how I savor the memory of him coming home each evening, smelling of soot and smoke and cinder. How that smell became his distinctly and and how my sisters and I welcomed it every night that he walked through the door because he came home alive. Unless you have a loved one who goes to a job each day where he or she risks their lives, you cannot understand how each day brings a breath of relief. What the sound of keys in a door means. The thankfulness that floods through your body each time he walks through the door and the anxiety that chills your blood when you know a fire is raging and someone you love is in the middle of it. Father's Day will forever be tainted for the families of the firefighters who died today. And I'm sorry if I'm being somber and morose but this, death, is a part of life, and we must deal with all the emotions that come with it. You do not have to have known someone personally to be affected by their death. To be affected by any death, you only have to know life.