My father was born on July 28, 1950. OK, that is not his birthday but it is the day I first met him. You see my father was many things to me. He was my hero, my coach, my mentor, my disciplinarian, my inspiration and, of course, my aspiration. My first memory of my father was when no one was supposed to remember anything. I have no idea how old I was but I knew the most important person was holding me in my universe. Hell, in any universe.
I was told before he met me he lived a life few people have the opportunity to live. He came out of Revere, Massachusetts, and if you know Revere it is easy to understand why his sisters made him leave. He moved to Somersworth, New Hampshire and immediately became one of their most famous athletes. His name now resides in the Rochester Hall of Fame. In fact, he has some records that are still standing today. He was also a veteran of World War II. He fought in the battle for Italy and had many experiences he did not talk about. Who would?
He was my hero because he made sure his entire family was fed and had a roof over their heads. There was never talk of money or the lack of when he was the head of the family. We had many houses because we moved a lot. I found out later my migrant lifestyle was because back in the days when a company was more than just a data point they made him move every couple of years. Back then I just thought everyone needed him because he was my super hero.
He was my coach. I mean literally he was my coach. I loved baseball because my father loved it. I did my best every season because I wanted to be like my Dad. He put me on third base because I had a strong arm and physically I was husky. Ok, I was fat but no ball could ever get past me. One day, probably because of my size, my coach decided to put me behind the plate. At the time no one knew I was blind in one eye thus having little to no depth perception. After I was almost knocked out a half a dozen times my father decided to put me back at third. But, no ball passed me because my Dad would never let a ball pass him.
He was my mentor. Everything I know today that has any importance came from my father. He showed me what was right and what was not so right. He taught me the importance of an education and the value of the dollar. He showed me the importance of family and how nothing next to it had any value. I can't say I'm following his advice in my present world but that is a whole other story. He made me cut the lawn twice in opposite directions because the outside of your home represents what you are. A neat house is a good house.
He was my disciplinarian and God knows I needed one. You could say I had a kind of rebellious youth. It just so happened it occurred during the 1960's. I found myself hiding under the bed hoping he was too tired to lift it up. I found myself hanging against a wall a few times staring into eyes that loved me. He never hit me and I was never afraid he would.
He was my inspiration and aspiration. He once took me to his work when I was very young. He had his own desk and phone and I was so proud to stand next to him when he made his calls and jotted down something on a pad of paper. Every now and then he would look over and smile. I knew I was going to be like him because how could I ever hope to be anything else.
My father was born on May 14, 1920. I miss him and I'll never forget him because he is who I am.
Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York, Maine