Wow….another year is almost passed…it’s been 21 years now since I lost my dad on Father’s Day Weekend 1992.  It seems like just yesterday he was laughing, drinking coffee, and sharing old stories with friends and family around our kitchen table. That kitchen table seemed to attract people like a magnet attracts metal.  Some weekends our kitchen seemed to have a revolving door.  It was the same thing every weekend as far back as I can remember.

I remember one Sunday…I was probably only about 11 or 12 years old….my mom made 12 pots of coffee and 6 Bisquick Coffee Cakes that day.  There was never less than 4 people sitting around the kitchen table.  The stories were flying, the coffee hot, and the laughter flowed like a river.  Good thing we had a big U-turn driveway.  It could hold a LOT of cars and trucks…and sometimes even a tractor or two.

A gathering of family at the kitchen table. The kitchen at the farm was always busy.

A gathering of family at the kitchen table.
The kitchen at the farm was always busy.

My dad solved a lot of problems at that table.  A lot of napkins were sacrificed to draw out ideas, make lists of items to be purchased, and he always doodled while talking.  Many family members and friends brought their problems to my dad to find a solution.  He was highly respected, by everyone…but to me he was just Dad.  The man that could move mountains for us…the man that even after a massive stroke, took care of us (even while we were trying to take care of him)…the man that could calm my nerves during the most stressful of situations.  He was a man of knowledge and many people leaned on him thru the years.  Almost every pot of coffee could guarantee the solution to a problem.

But I never understood, until years later, exactly what a wonderfully caring man my dad was.  Just like any child, we tend to remember more of the bad, not the good, in our memories.  We remember every time we’re told no…every time we don’t get our way…every time we’re challenged.  I’m no different.  Even years after my father’s death, I still deeply wondered why he and I seemed to “clash” on so many things.  My answer didn’t come from him…it came from my mom.  In 2008, about 6 months before my mom passed away, she started talking to me about my dad.  How very much I was like him.  Stubborn, determined, and having a huge desire to prove everyone wrong.  I told her how desperately I wanted to please him…to succeed in his eyes.  We talked about how he always told me I would need to find a man to “take care” of me because I’d never be able to do it on my own.  I proved him wrong.  Not only did I succeed in taking care of myself, but also took the role of single mom very seriously.  She said he told me those things not because he didn’t believe in me, but because he knew I would fight to prove him wrong.  And it worked.  She told me he was proud of me and how I fought for what I believed in.  I just wish he would’ve told me that….not her.

I have come to realize that we, as children, never appreciate the people in our lives. We take for granted that they will always be there…especially family.  They leave us temporarily when they move…add new people thru marriage and births…but leave us with only memories when they die.  Its after they are gone that we fully realize how important they really were to us.

Today, I am sitting at the beach watching the water and enjoying a local Sunday “Art Walk”.  But my dad isn’t far from my mind.  I can hear him telling me to enjoy the day…enjoy the moment.  Be there for family and friends and life will shine on you.  Because family and friends mean everything.

My view today....a great place to think and let your mind wander.

My view today….a great place to think and let your mind wander.

So today I celebrate him. The man that captured my heart many, many years ago…the man that calmed my fears…the man that taught me to stand on my own two feet and prove everyone wrong (including himself).  He was always my rock…my knight in shining armor…the most important man in a girls life…her daddy.

I did listen, Dad…and I learned a lot.  Happy Father’s Day!

Leo J. Giudice Nov 9, 1925 - June 19, 1992 I love you and miss you terribly.

Leo J. Giudice
Nov 9, 1925 – June 19, 1992
I love you and miss you terribly.