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My dad is a guy’s guy, a man’s man. Men love him. They form a circle around him, drawn to the aura of excitement and adventure and success, hoping to soak a little of it up. He’s a thrill-seeker, you see, a champion skydiver and a downhill skier and an old battered college athlete. This past spring he went heli-skiing with some buddies in Alaska and none of us batted an eye. Like, “Of course, what else would Dad do but take a helicopter up the ski mountain near a volcano in Alaska?”
He flies airplanes and has a long history of fights on the soccer and lacrosse fields. He’s traveled the world, speaks fluent Italian and French, and has a dramatic story for just about everything. He loves to spin a long tale over a glass of good scotch, maybe the one about the famous Italian opera singer he and his brothers saved from drowing in Italy when they were teens or about jumping out of airplanes in the 60s with some French soldiers. And you would never doubt that these are true stories . . . this is just the kind of guy he is.
He’s also the guy you want around when something goes wrong, a natural in a natural disaster. My mom used to say if there was a nuclear war, he’d be one of the few people who could actually survive and figure out what to do and help restart civilization. You feel safe with him, when he’s teaching you to drive a car or pulling you behind a boat on a waterski or piloting your aircraft. You know he knows exactly what he’s doing and is always in control, even — or perhaps especially — under pressure.
So when you see my dad tooling around Cleveland Heights with his little grandsons, pushing them on the swings at the playground or drinking milkshakes at Tommy’s, you should know there is a hint of greatness, of glory, beneath that ordinary exterior.
He has spent a lot of his life seeking greater adventures and greater thrills and greater success, driven by a need to do more, be more, have more. But he has learned, I think the hard way, that what matters most is the little things: family, home, togetherness. And I think, if you asked him today, he would say he has every single thing he needs to make him happy.
And then some.
Happy Father’s Day, dad.