Tag Archives: dad

A Lesson from Dad

Today was the first day I had to drive in the snow all season. First, we haven’t had any snow until last week, and traffic was at a stand still in many places. It was actually ridiculous, because everyone knew it was coming for two days. I can never understand that. 

Today we were at a meeting in the South Hills of Pittsburgh, and it lasted until about 3:30 pm. When we came out, our vehicle was completely covered, as were the roads. It wasn’t a white-knuckle drive back to the office, because we took our time. After all, I had my staff with me too. And as we drove north, the snow was less and less, which was a relief! After dropping off my staff at the office, I continued on home. As I was coming through our housing plan, my neighbors were snow blowing and shoveling their driveways — we had less than 1″ of snow! It was almost comical.

My Dad snow blowing the driveway after a big snowfall. Gosh how I miss him!!!

My Dad snow blowing the driveway after a big snowfall. Gosh how I miss him!!!

Then, as I was looking through my photos to update my cover picture, I came across this photo today of my Dad. There he was smiling at me as he ran the snow blower in the driveway at home. I try to think what he may have been saying to me — I don’t remember, but whatever it was, he was making a joke, because he was laughing. I can tell by the look on his face. Memories flooded back! I thought, “wow, what a perfect day for this photo to pop out at me.” We lived in the country with beautiful pine trees everywhere and no neighbors in sight. The snow would stick to the branches — it was diamonds sparkling on the limbs. Now that I live in Cranberry, and I do have neighbors, it’s not quite the same. Okay, it’s nothing like how I grew up. The serenity is gone, and now I live in a fish bowl.

My Dad worked hard to give us the home we grew up in, and he loved the land where he built our home. He taught us to love the outdoors and enjoy the beauty of it. Every year we hiked the entire property, and Dad would spray his land markers with fluorescent paint. He’d show us different mushrooms or where deer traveled by the markings on the trees. We’d hike to this one high spot where you could see over the entire area. It was just amazing. My Dad was so amazing. There was nobody like him. And in the winter, he’d help us make a killer sledding hill, and he even got us these giant inter tubes from someone he knew that had large equipment. Dad made sure we always had fun.

I believe that God gives us these opportunities to see the beauty in life. If I never saw a sunrise or a sunset — wow, how I would have missed out. Or if I had never seen the ocean, or built a snowman — wow, again how I would have missed out. Sometimes we’re in such a rush, we miss all these stunning things around us. All these things that help us find serenity in our lives.

So today, I unexpectedly came across a flood of memories with just one picture. One photograph that I’ll cherish forever. One photograph to remind me to stop every once in a while and enjoy what is all around me. A lesson from Dad.

Always B E L I E V E !

Thinking of Dad with Laughter

Memorial Day — one of my favorite holidays when we remember those who served and those who gave their lives so that we can be free. In Pennsylvania, it’s the official kickoff to summer with a long weekend, usually warmer weather and family cookouts.

Friday, the 22nd was the funeral mass of a friend’s wife. I had never met her, but I knew about her illness as I talked about it with him. She had an aggressive form of cancer and he had asked me about mine. I prayed for her often and for peace for her family. I lit a candle for her when I heard about her cancer and then again when I heard she had passed away. I had no idea until I attended the mass just how much faith they had.

Thursday evening I was apprehensive about attending, because she was only five years older than me, and I was worried that I might be pensive the rest of the weekend. I couldn’t have been more wrong about that. In fact, I was inspired. I know that is an odd thing to say after leaving a funeral mass. I felt the same way when my Dad passed away and we left his funeral mass. It’s because I believed! I remember belting out “On Eagle’s Wings” as we left the church, and I knew in that moment that my Dad was with God!

Their family believed. During the eulogy, he told us their story — that they put all their faith and trust in God that he would make her well — but they knew if he didn’t that it was his Will. And either way it was a win-win situation for her. His faith was simple and beautiful. And he believed that everything came with a lesson and was teaching them something. He smiled and laughed — and he had peace, as did the rest of their family. As we sang “On Eagle’s Wings” as we left church, I thought of my Dad. Saturday was the anniversary of his death — May 23, 2002. It’s been 13 years.

I thought about my Dad all day on Saturday. Tom was servicing the jet ski, because we were taking it out to Shenango Lake on Sunday, even though the water was only 68°. If you’re careful, only your legs get wet — I figured we’d be okay as long as we didn’t fall in. We were going to church at 5 pm at St. Gregory, going out to dinner at the Waterhole after church, and then watching the fireworks show at Cooper’s Lake.

I talk to my Dad all the time, even though he’s not here. I pray for him everyday and then I talk to him. I’d just love to see him smile at me one more time. When I think of him, I remember a very fond memory of him where he is sitting on his bed watching TV and I go into the room and his face lights up — he grins and exclaims, “Pam! What are you up to?” And I jump on the bed next to him and give him a hug. I can recall his face so clearly and the sound of voice. I think of this all the time, because I never want to forget him.

Pyrotechnics at Coopers Lake

Pyrotechnics at Coopers Lake.

As we waited for the fireworks to start, I was thinking of how appropriate to watch fireworks on this day, because Dad loved a good fireworks show. We couldn’t hear the music during the fireworks, but I imagined something patriotic — in memory of Dad.

Sunday we headed out to the lake. Tom got up early and waxed the jet ski, because it was looking a little dirty and sun-faded from last year. That turned out to be a big mistake!!!

We met up with my brother Tommy and his fiancé, Gretchen and her son Sam who were already on the boat. After cruising around a bit, Tom and I went out on the jet ski for a couples ride. We didn’t do that often, because it’s not as fun with the extra weight on the jet ski. When we went back to the boat so Tom could get off, Tommy wanted to take the jet ski out with Gretchen. So we both decided to get off. And that’s when it happened.

Memorial Day on Shenango Lake.

Memorial Day on Shenango Lake.

Somehow Tom leaned the wrong way when I was supposed to get off and the jet ski started to tip, but as I tried to counter balance, my foot slipped on the side of the jet ski and boom — I was in the water before I knew what hit me. I twisted my bad leg and I’m not sure what I’ve done to it (I can’t put any weight on it when I go up the stairs). Tom also fell in — we were lucky that neither of us hit our head or were injured any worse. Tom’s leg was also stuck sideways in the jet ski.

Well after this fiasco, Gretchen and Sam no longer wanted to go on the jet ski. I told them that I have never fallen in — because that has never happened to me! Thanks Tom for waxing it and creating a super slippery surface. In the shock of what happened, I never even felt the 68° water temperature. So, after talking Gretchen and Sam into going, Gretchen starts to climb on the jet ski as Tommy is already seated on it and she slips on the super slippery surface and before you know it — she’s in the water too.

We got the biggest laugh about it on the way home. It was hysterical, and I wish we could have been on one of the boats around us. I’m sure they got a good laugh at our expense. These are the kinds of things that happened when we used to go boating with Dad. Despite my new injury, it was a great day. And I hope my Dad got a good laugh with us.

Always B E L I E V E !

Glorious Days


Looking back, I have absolutely wonderful memories of my Dad’s fishing boat. As Debbie and I floated around the pool this past Sunday, we started reminiscing about all the good times on the water or at the cabin — and sunny days on the fishing boat that could comfortably fit our family of six. Mom and Tommy sold the boat this past weekend to a very nice family of four that would use the boat for all the same reasons we loved it as kids.

Dad bought it new in 1978. I was 11 years old and I remember him telling us about the colors he picked — the sparkle in the shiny fiberglass finish and the white contrast of the design. He talked about the two lounge seats for relaxing and the two high seats meant for fishing off both ends of the boat. It even had a snazzy container for keeping fish. He brought it home and shined it up, and we were all fitted for life jackets and fishing gear. I can remember how excited we were — like kids on Christmas day.

Life revolved around fishing in the summers and relaxing on the boat. Sometimes Dad would get us up at four in the morning so we could get on the lake before sunrise. Mom and I would take the lounge seats, wrapped up in blankets and napped until daybreak. It would be chilly on the water and sometimes it was covered with a thick, cold fog. We’d watch the sun break through that and burn it off to reveal a glorious sunny day. Sometimes I would just look over the side of the boat and see how far I could see into the water. It would rock rhythmically on the water and was very soothing.

Mom always packed lunchmeat, double stuff oreos, homemade chocolate chip cookies, M&Ms and chips. One of the storage bins below the lounge chairs held the food, while the other had ice that stored cans of soda. Debbie and Tommy usually rode on the front of the boat and Bob and Dad had the back seats. Tommy was only two when we got the boat and rarely joined us on the water until he was seven or eight. That kid loved to fish and he was pretty good at it.

Dad_fishingDad was at his happiest on the boat. He always was laughing and smiling and left all the problems of work at the office. This was his time with the family. I think it was one of his special places — that ranked up there with spending time at the cabin — hunting, fishing, hiking and just being outdoors. And it rubbed off on us — we all love the water.

I remember one time Tommy was learning to cast — he threw his pole back, as he was sitting on the back fishing chair, and snagged my nose when he cast forward. I had a nose piercing long before that was cool — except for the night crawler hanging from my nose. Another time, we took the boat to Lake Erie. This was back in the day when Mom and Dad rented these little cabins in Vermillion, OH along the lake for a week. The water was so rough that Dad made us get out and swim to shore to our beach area. He decided it was better not to have his entire family on the boat if it capsized! Most of the time we took it to Lake Arthur, because it was closest to home. And later the Tionesta Lake once we built the cabin. All of these lakes catered to fisherman. My Dad complained when anyone disturbed the fishing — as you could use high powered boats and jet skis at Tionesta Lake.

My high school years, Dad worked for a specialty glass company in Coldwater, Michigan after the last B&W steel mill closed. He rented a small, one-room cabin right on the water that had its own dock — staying there during the work week and coming home to his family on the weekends. He docked the boat there a couple of summers, and we all took turns spending some time up there. The boat gave Dad some comfort during the long weeks alone. He sacrificed much so that we could go to college.

Sometimes those glorious sunny days on the boat would turn into steamy afternoons with a pop-up thunderstorm. We usually didn’t have time to get to the car, so Dad would pull the boat along shore and we would ride out the storm on the water. I would be petrified. The boat would fill up with water above our ankles and there wouldn’t be a dry spot anywhere. I would always think, “there’s no way God will hit the boat with lightning, because Bob’s on the boat and he wouldn’t take a priest, because there’s a shortage of priests!” That was the time that Mom tried to get Dad to change out of his heavy wet jeans into her purple polka dot shorts just while his pants dried. He refused and said he would rather sit in his underwear, because someone might see him in those shorts. Sure enough, the fish & game commission came around to check our fishing licenses.

The last time I was in the boat was in 2009, a couple of months after my major surgery. I had fallen into some kind of funk or depression, as I didn’t have the strength to go back to work at that time. My brother, Bob was convinced that I just needed to get out of the house, so he took myself, Tom and my Mom out for a day of fishing on Lake Arthur. I’ll always remember that day as the day that started to bring me back to life.

This boat represented good things for 36 years of my life. While the boat may be gone, of course, the memories remain for each one of us. I doubt my Dad had any idea just how much it meant to all of us. And now a new family will start new memories of their own.

A L W A Y S  B E L I E V E !