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My Dad. My Role Model.

My Dad and I. Circa 1984. Kings Point, FL.

If anyone has ever matriculated at a State University of New York (SUNY) or City University of New York (CUNY) school, then they had to complete a certain amount of general education requirements in order to graduate. One of them was for public speaking, which at the time, was something that I honestly dreaded and had a legitimate fear towards. So, instead of attending one at SUNY Binghamton, I decided to do it over the summer in 2001 at Sullivan County Community College (SCCC). This would not only be a shorter semester but would allow me to take a class that had much fewer students while getting the necessary credits.

One of our assignments over the course of the semester was writing about someone that we considered a role model in our lives up until that point. It didn’t have to be someone famous, such as an athlete or celebrity, and could even be someone who was already dead. The main focus was to choose someone who had an impact on our lives, the way we thought about the world around us, and ultimately how we carried ourselves as a human being.

I didn’t have to think twice about who I was going to pick for this assignment. It was hands down, without a doubt, going to be my Dad. He was the clear cut, obvious choice for me. You see, I wasn’t just looking at this from a son’s point of view of his father, but from the standpoint of one human being witnessing another. Before constructing the actual speech I was going to deliver, I wanted to list all of the reasons why I chose my Dad as my role model.

The list went a little like this (not sure this is the exact order but this is definitely what I wrote down):

  • Moved upstate and took a chance on a job as a caretaker of a farm with my Mom, which turned out to be about a long and exciting endeavor.

  • Bought a house in 1984.

  • Helped raise a family with two children.

  • Had a successful business for over 20 years in a small town that often saw businesses come and go like the seasons.

  • Put his two children through college.

  • A man of his word, who always preaches to be honest and accountable for your actions.

  • The importance of family.

The Boob Tube. Liberty, NY.

I am not even exaggerated when I say this, but the list ended up being about 2 pages front and back. I wasn’t trying to fish or search for anything and everything that I could use as “evidence” to prove my Dad was worthy of being my role model. The things that I wrote down were genuine and came straight from my heart. Having said that, if you would have asked him at the time if he was worthy enough to be someone’s role model, I’m not sure he would’ve agreed with my choice. That’s the thing about perspective. It truly does depend on who’s doing the observing and who’s being observed. If my Dad took the time to analyze and reflect upon his past, his overall conclusions may not be in sync with mine.

I’m not saying this to make him sound ungrateful or unappreciative of everything that he has accomplished because he’s expressed his gratitude many times before. But, at times it can be difficult to see what others see when you’re on the inside looking out as opposed to on the outside looking in. You may think that you are just doing what you’re supposed to be doing or what society thinks you should be doing when in actuality you are achieving feats and reaching milestones that aren’t easily attained.

As a child, and even into my teenage years, I always viewed my dad as this superhero type figure who I could call on for anything at the drop of a hat. Similar to Superman or Batman, he would always come flying in to save the day, which usually meant giving me advice, fixing a problem I created (usually the case), or just reinforcing the fact that he would always show up. I know we had our differences like many family members do, but that never stopped me from thinking he would always be in my corner ready to support me, no matter what.

And, you know what? My Dad was and still is, in my corner. In all honesty, being reliable, responsible,

selfless, and having a good moral compass is one of the most important life lessons that he taught me through his actions. By example, I learned not only how to be a good son, a good brother, and a good family member, but also a respectful, polite, kind-hearted person who treated others as he would want to be treated. Even though my Dad instilled all of this into me, I didn’t always stay true to these qualities. I veered off the honorable path many times growing up. But, the morals implanted into my soul by my Dad always acted as a lighthouse guiding me back to where I needed to be. And, for that, my Dad will always be my role model.

My Dad has always been selfless and a generous person with his time, his money, and unconditional love. He’s helped more people that I can remember when they needed someone to believe in them, give them a chance, and feel like they were being seen. To this day, I have friends and people that remember the altruistic acts my Dad performed and how it changed and impacted their life, allowing them to become the person they were today. And, for that, my Dad will always be my role model.

My Dad never judged me for any of my actions or decisions, especially the mistakes I made and grief I may have caused him. There was a time when I thought he constantly critiqued me, but that was really a figment of my imagination. His words, his actions, and his feelings came from a place of love and whole-heartedly wanting me to be happy and successful in whatever I chose to do. And, for that, my Dad will always be my role model.

I know it’s cliché to say that one day shouldn’t be singled out to appreciate your mother or your father because every day provides the opportunity to celebrate them. I agree with this. One day isn’t enough, but using the time we have each day to show a family member how much we love and care about them is extremely important. Expressing how much they mean to us is extremely important. Letting them know the impact and impression they’ve had on your life is extremely important because sometimes recognition isn’t recognized by that person.

So tell them you love them. Tell them you care about them. Tell them how thankful and grateful you are for the role they’ve played in your life. Don’t wait until tomorrow because today in this very moment is all we truly have.

I love you, Dad. I care about you more than words can ever express. And, I am eternally grateful for everything you’ve done for me in my life thus far. You’ve sacrificed so much to provide your family with a better life. You’ve been there for me during my highest highs, but more importantly, during my lowest of lows. You’ve shown me how to be a person that can be trusted, relied upon, listened to, loved, and grateful for.

And, for that, Dad you are my role model forever. Happy Father’s Day today and every single day I get to have you in my life. It’s all truly a blessing that I never take for granted.

Bethel, NY. 1982.

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