As many of you know, I have been on a brief hiatus as my father recently lost his 3 ½ year battle with Pancreatic Cancer on June 14, 2011. It was and still is a very tough time for me and my family but we are moving forward day-by-day. I count myself lucky to have had those extra years that most never get the chance to have.
My father was truly a remarkable man who enjoyed life to the absolute fullest and was among the best of the best in the Dad department. Whether it was taking me to the City every weekday for more than three years while I did television commercials or was in the audience EVERY performance for close to 100 performances of the SAME musical I was in – he was always there with a smile and encouraged both me and my brother to reach for the stars. It was never Don’t or Can’t (those words were simply not in his vocabulary and subsequently never in mine) but rather give it your all and if for some reason it does not work out, well, at least you tried. He also was not a Stage Dad and always said When it stops being fun just let me know. And that is exactly what happened.
It’s funny how I walk the streets of the City today and smell a particular smell of pass a certain building and I am instantly transported back to my childhood with my father. Stopping the car on our way home and jumping out to get me a hot dog with the works from the cart (one of my guilty childhood pleasures) was a favorite of mine. I had always wanted to be a commercial pilot and remember many a day spent at JFK Airport on top of the Pan Am Worldport watching the aircraft movements. When I wanted to go to high school abroad – it was where do you want to go? When I wanted to go to flight school – it was which one? He had what I can only describe as an obsession with Gloria Estefan and remember him flying across the country to see her in concert and I probably saw her more times than is necessary for one person – but it somehow didn’t matter because we were together. I remember as a teenager losing my passport in the car while crossing the Swiss border and having the border guards quite literally tear apart the car looking for it – and my father just smiled and said I knew they’d find it. When my driver’s license was restricted due to one too many speeding tickets (a habit we both shared) while in college he didn’t bat an eyelash and was more concerned with my safety than anything else. That’s just the type of guy he was – sweating the small stuff was not an option. It is funny the things we remember and the past couple of weeks I have been lucky enough to re-live some of my fondest memories.
I am the person I am today because of both my parents and though I cannot physically see my father any more he is with me every day. I always found it interesting how when people lost a parent they always start using the past tense had. That is not an option for me because I still have and always will have a father who is one in a million.