Remembering Dad

My father died on July 28. He was ill for a short time, went through a tough operation, gave us hope that he would soon be back on his feet, but died very quickly of a heart attack on a Tuesday morning. One day he was there, the next he was gone.

His sudden passing was a dignified and painless way to go, but it was hard on those he left behind. Dad was 77, and he lived a great life. Everyone who knew him wished for more, of course, but he lived life to the fullest, saw his children have children of their own, and enjoyed his days. Dad was a great guy, and like any good father he was a teacher, passing on life’s lessons to help his sons grow into men.

Dad taught me how to make a proper fire, how to hammer a nail, the right time to flip a hamburger, and how to shuck oysters and clams. He taught me never to start a plumbing job on a Sunday night, because if you mess it up you’ll have a long wait until help arrives (or have to pay dearly for overtime.) He taught me how to pack a car, tie a solid knot, and cook breakfast for a dozen people. He was a man of great humor, and always had a joke. When he was on a breathing tube, only hours after his surgery, he asked for pen and paper and sketched out jokes by hand, bringing smiles to our faces. Taking care of us when we were trying to take care of him.

Dad taught me how to respect my neighbors and elders, how to love my country and how to have compassion for my fellow man. He showed me how to welcome guests with a cold drink and a warm smile, and how good friends can be as close to you as a member of the family. He patched up my cuts when I fell off my bike and drove me to the hospital when I broke my finger playing football in the front yard. When someone hit me, he held up his palms and taught me how to hit back, thumb outside my fists to protect them from harm. He taught me to take responsibility for my mistakes, to never be afraid to fail, and empowered me with the belief that I could overcome any obstacle set in my path.

My father was never a big cigar smoker (sadly, he smoked cigarettes when he was a younger man) but he knew how much I enjoyed cigars, and he smoked them with me on occasion. He enjoyed larger cigars, milder ones, and spoke of old comedians and actors who used cigars as props on the rare occasion when he indulged in one.

I wish I had more time to spend with him—one more dinner together, one more conversation, one more hug—but I’m glad for the time I had. I’m happy that I went with my five-year-old son and brother to visit him the weekend before his death. He spent some time with his grandson that beautiful day, sitting outside amongst the blooming flowers and green trees, enjoying the sweet air on a warm but not hot day, and posed for what would become his final photograph. My mother was at his side every day in the hospital, and my brother and I also saw him the night before he died. He was tired, but in good spirits, making jokes and making us feel happy, as always. We talked about what we would do when he got out of the hospital—see another ballgame, go fishing, have a steak dinner.

Those of you who have lost your fathers understand my sadness. My heart is heavy, but I know I’m lucky—some of my friends had far less time with their dads. For those of you who still have your fathers, treasure the time. Have him over for dinner. Ask him about his childhood. Listen to that old story one more time.

Dad, thanks for all the lessons. I miss you.
Jorge Armenteros Princeton, NJ August 17, 2009 4:51pm ET
Beautiful Tribute.
Carl Diorio August 17, 2009 5:46pm ET
Condolences, Dave. Great photo!
Alex Benes California August 17, 2009 5:48pm ET
David,Your feelings and how you communicated them are similar to how I felt when my dad died at a young age. He was 52 and I was out of the country when he died, also of a heart attack. Indeed, the time to say goodbye was missed and I think of him every day. My dad was also a cigarette smoker, but also loved cigars and I would delight in bringing back boxes of Cuban cigars with the old labels that he used to smoke when we still lived in Cuba. Sharing cigars with my father is an indelible memory. AB
Nelson J Boronat Atlanta,GA August 17, 2009 5:50pm ET
God bless you and your family David. It makes you appreciate the time we have with our loved ones and to make every moment a lasting memory.
Christian Eiroa Miami, FL August 17, 2009 9:49pm ET
Excellent blog post Dave! God bless...
Bill Humphreys Everett, WA August 18, 2009 8:00am ET
Beautiful reflections on your dad, David. Just beautiful. Thank you, and God Bless your father.
Kevin Zaborniak August 18, 2009 11:58am ET
Sorry for your loss
Pete Johnson Los Angeles August 18, 2009 12:52pm ET
Beautiful Dave Simply Beautiful!
Edward Sheats NY August 18, 2009 1:18pm ET
This perfectly reflects my feelings and my father passed 19 years ago.Peace.
Mark Weinberg brooklyn new york August 18, 2009 4:08pm ET
So very sorry to hear of your loss. My father passed away over 25 years ago and yet I feel he is with me every day. One of my greatest regrets is that we vever had a cigar together as I took it up many years after he passed away... The pain will lessen with time but the love and fond memories will last forever
Fausto Enrique Abreu New York, NY August 18, 2009 5:21pm ET
David,My deepest condolences to you and your family.This story has just brought back strong, emotional feelings to my heart, and how you expressed yourself is so close to how similar I felt when my grandfather died this year on Jan. 13, '09 in the Dominican Republic. To me he was my father and best friend since he taught me so many lessons in life. He was 85 yrs old, and I was out of New York City on a business trip when he died. Indeed, my time to see him or even say goodbye never happened, and I think about my grandfather every day since, and miss him so much. My grandfather was not an avid smoker, but he did enjoy cigars with me once in a while since he loved the smell of pure tobacco. He was a real cowboy with a farm planting all sorts of vegetables, rice, coffee, plantain, and he owned many herds of cows and horses. One of my most memorable memories was sharing cigars with my grandfather the very last time I saw him last summer in his hometown of Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic (30 min. away from Santiago near La Vega).May your father and my grandfather rest in peace in Heaven, and that the almighty God keeps them in His glory and light forever thru eternity!
Christian Aliperti August 18, 2009 6:29pm ET
Very sorry for you loss Dave. Makes me think of all those things my father did for me and how it made me the man I am today.
Anthony Giordano Norwalk, CT August 19, 2009 11:31am ET
David,I lost my father to a massive heart attack a few years ago. He never came out of his coma and died a few days later. My family's thoughts and prayers are with you and yours. The only thing that makes it better is time; however there is no better way to remember Dad than a My Father cigar and some good rum.Anthony Giordano
David Savona New August 19, 2009 12:48pm ET
Thank you all for the kind words about my post, and about my dad. I appreciate them all, very, very much.
Alan Rubin Miami,FL August 24, 2009 12:02pm ET
You are a kind soul, and a great Dad yourself; you must take after your father. It is not just the bond of cigars, but the love for our families that makes us brothers. Today I will smoke a cigar in honor of all of our fathers.
Pete Noel Medford, August 24, 2009 8:33pm ET
Beautiful tribute David. I was sorry to hear about the passing of your father. Sounds like you're focusing on the good times you had...that's a great way to look at things. I always tell my family and friends that when my time comes not cry because I'm gone but smile at the fun times we had. I'm sure your dad is looking down on you now and saying, "That ballgame, fishing trip and steak dinner are still on. It just may take a little longer to happen now."
Leslie Mann August 27, 2009 10:57am ET
David: My Dad is 92 years old. My family is here in RI while my Mom and Dad are in Pittsburgh. We talk twice a week about work, my family, Tiger and Pittsburgh sports and most importantly he always wants to speak with Jennifer, Natalie and Alex. He never missed a college golf tournament that I played in from all ends of this country. As we spoke in New Orleans about your Dad, you should know that as you stated in the end of your story....Although I can not see him as often as I would like, I make sure that we still communicate via telephone as well as sending numerous pictures of my family via email. My goal in life is to make sure that my kids grow up loving their Dad as much as I love mine!Les
Alan Rubin Miami,FL August 28, 2009 10:46am ET
Great Tribute Dave.It was a great feeling when You,Barry and I toasted to our Dads while smoking a Family Blend in New Orleans 2 weeks ago.Be well my friend.
Frank Herrera Miami, Florida September 4, 2009 2:38pm ET
My condolences. My father passed away 10 years ago. A great generation.
Jody Sattler Rowayton, CT September 9, 2009 9:38pm ET
You're amazing Dave! I hope you know that there is always a positive to come out of all of life's events. Even though you miss your Dad and wish he was still here, this will make you a better Dad for your son. And that will make your Dad even prouder of you.

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