I was sitting at my desk in my first location of RevFit when you called me. As memory serves, you were driving back to work after leaving the doctor’s office.
“Are you busy?”, you asked.
“No, I’m just sitting here in the office at work. What’s going on?”
“Well, I just left the doctor’s office. They told me I have multiple myeloma.”
And I did what any person would (and oftentimes shouldn’t) do, I got on Google to look it up as I hear your voice on the phone.
“It’s bone marrow cancer,” you said. “Which would explain why I’ve been having all of this pain in my hips and why I haven’t been recovering from the carpal tunnal surgery the way I would have normally.”
I saw the symptoms and I read the prognosis. Neither of which were positive.
“Dad, this isn’t good.”
“I know. Don’t tell your mother yet. She’s at work and I don’t want to bother her with this until she’s done working.”
“Ok, but what are you going to do?”
“Well, we’ll have to talk to a few more doctors who specialize in this type of cancer and see how they want to treat it.”
You were ever the optimist and you continued to hold out hope that we had the right doctors to help and the right course of action to treat the cancer.
The hope was that you would have stem cell procedures done that would give you more time.
But nine more months was all there would be. None of the protocols the doctors used would save you.
You passed in the evening of March 23 of 2011. Coincidentally, it was on Gram’s birthday, just a few weeks before Mom’s birthday and well before you’d turn 60.
You would be turning 70 this week.
Each year, as I write things about you (normally around the anniversary of your passing or your birthday), I have to dig deep: one, to remember circumstances and write about them so that I don’t forget and can keep them for posterity and two, to work through the emotions of losing someone who meant so much to me (and Mom).
I wanted to approach this article from a slightly different place.
As I’ve watched Mom get older each year, with her own set of health challenges, it’s hard not to consider what you would be like had you lived.
I know, and I believe, that your personality would not have changed. You would have been the same kind, compassionate, loving father, husband, father-in-law, grandfather and brother that you had always been.
I believe you would have retired from Goodyear, where you worked for all of my life and where you were employed up until your passing.
However, I don’t know that you would have been able to just be a retiree. You would have needed things to stimulate your mind, things that could occupy your time and give you a sense of accomplishment and productivity. I believe I got those attributes in equal measure from you and from Mom.
You would have remained in awe and admiration of your grandsons: Jackson and Sebastian. Likewise, you would have loved to see what Mom has accomplished with Savoir-Faire Event Planning and what I’ve been so fortunate to do with RevFit.
I believe you would have maintained the weight I helped you lose when I moved back here to start this business. I remember how good you said that you felt and it was one of my proudest moments ever as a coach to help you lose that weight.
I think you would have been a constant reminder of the type of husband I should be. This year will mark 47 years that you and Mom would be married. No one has ever or will ever love Mom the way you did. Believe me when I tell you that she knows that too.
I think you’d still enjoy watching car races on television, you’d still love being on a boat, you’d still love the beach and maybe I’d get you to join Marissa and I for bourbon from time to time (you know, beyond the Jack and Coke you would have every so often).
Much of what I’ve written about you since you passed has been from a place of sadness and emptiness. I can’t ever fill those holes. I wanted to write something that didn’t reduce me to tears this time. I wanted to think (or wish) about you being here, being full of life, being everything that you’ve missed out on over the last 10+ years.
Selfishly, I wish I could see you celebrate 70 years with us. I’d like your grandsons to be there to see it. Turns out, I may have been the first American born under our name but the onus is on Sebastian now to carry it further.
I’ve never been more proud than now to be your son and maybe, just maybe, after nearly 46 years on this earth, I might be fulfilling the man you wanted me to be.
Happy Birthday, Dad. Play a song up there for us, okay?