December 9, 2016
My dad turned eighty this week! My earliest memories of my dad are playing catch in the front yard, having him and mom sit under the tree at Saco River being our lifeguards as we went swimming, and him correcting papers at the kitchen table as we also did our homework. However, over the years, he has become more than just dad; he has become my hero and inspiration. My dad was raised in a family with one older brother and a younger brother and sister. He lived in the suburbs of Boston. His father served in World War II, came home, worked various jobs, but passed away when my dad was in college. His mom and four special aunts raised him. In the very few stories that he shares about growing up, he speaks about walking to his father’s cab to give him dinner, spending time at his aunts’ house, and sneaking into Boston Brave baseball games.
My dad graduated from high school and went to Keene State College. He was the first member of his family to attend college. Dad shares many stories of his time at KSC. He talks about living off campus as a freshman in a community member’s house. He talks about hitchhiking home on holiday breaks. He shares funny stories about his time as president of his fraternity, Kappa Delta Pi, as well as his time as president of the class of 1958. He talks about the day he was summonsed into the college president’s office and was asked to transfer to Plymouth. My dad held his ground and talked the president into letting him stay at KSC. He talks about almost not graduating from college, because he owed $5 at graduation. Luckily, he had some extra cash that week to pay off that bill!
My dad got his first teaching job in Hopkinton, NH. The next year he got a job in Nashua, NH and taught in the Nashua School District for 37 years. As a rookie teacher, he taught English and then went back to school and received a master’s degree in guidance. For over 20 years, he was a guidance counselor at Nashua High. Then, he finished off his career by teaching 8 th grade US history.
I went into teaching because of him. I watched how every day he would come home, loving his job and loving his family. Over time, he became my role model. His work ethic, compassion, sense of humor, and love of teaching have guided me as an adult. He was a quiet leader by taking on different leadership roles at school and home. He was union president and chair of the guidance department. He would help my mother with the laundry and housecleaning. I saw how he and my mother would purchase an extra winter coat or pair of sneakers and just leave it in one of his 8 th grade student’s locker.
My father continues to be an inspiration to me as he copes with an aging body and mind. Unfortunately, his eyesight and Parkinson’s disease are taking a toll, but his love of family and sense of humor remain strong. His smile brightens and body becomes energized as he plays with his great grandsons and watches his grandchildren play high school sports. In our conversations, he still has those one-liners that just make you laugh and smile for the rest of the day.
I am the person I am today because of my father. As each year passes, I know how fortunate I am to still have the opportunity to call my dad for advice, or to share a funny school story. I cherish the time and have tried to both tell him and show him, through my actions, that he has earned an A+ in being a dad! Happy Birthday, Dad-- I love you!