Skinny Daily Post

Invincible.

Today would have been Dad’s 84th birthday. He died in 1999 from complications of congestive heart failure and diabetes.

Dad was one of the smartest people I’d ever known. The son of Italian immigrants, he worked his way up from office boy to the company president. He was a good friend to many people, and enlivened many, many parties and gatherings.

He loved food, especially the way his mother made it. Some of my earliest memories of cooking were ‘helping’ Grandma make pasta of all types, and listening to the stories of the old country – the farm, the huge family, how she used to keep rocks in her apron pockets to throw at the boys, that her husband (my grandfather) “e un principe,” a prince.

Over the years, Dad gained a lot of weight. Looking back on it, he had a lot of stress – 4 children, a long commute, community responsibilities. His way of coping was with good food, often eaten with friends.

As he aged, in fact, he’d often declare a weekend – any old weekend – as his birthday. He wanted an excuse for a party!

Diabetes was diagnosed when he was in his late 50’s or early 60’s. He didn’t take it seriously for a number of years, always trying to get around the rules. It wasn’t until he developed early signs of retinopathy (eye damage) that he shaped up. The fear of blindness drove him.

Dad became so focused on controlling his diabetes that he actually reversed the retinopathy. Unfortunately, the heart disease history on both sides of his family stepped in as well.

Why am I going on so much about it? Well, this is actually a tribute to a life well lived. But also an admission that he’d always been on me to control my weight. He was proud of me when I did, and not-so-proud of me when I didn’t. As I passed 400 pounds, and my health was starting to fail, he was spending more and more time in the hospital. My size upset him terribly.

Two weeks after he died, the beginning of the end for me started up. I was admitted to the same hospital he’d died in – with many of the same nurses – with a bad leg infection and septicemia.

With 20-20 hindsight, I think he not only knew what was happening to me, but also helping it along. I obviously needed a major disaster.

Surgery is probably not the route he would have preferred to see, but I can’t help but feel that he’s watching, and is happy that I’ve had a second chance. He’s proud of me. REALLY proud of me.

So, happy birthday, Dad. Hope you’re up there with your buddies, having an endless barbecue, and singing the old stupid songs.

3 thoughts on “Happy birthday, Dad!

  1. Cindy says:

    Hi Jane,
    Here you go again…making so much sense and connecting to my life’s experience in a surprising way. I had a wonderful dad myself. He died eight years ago and didn’t get to see me lose all this weight. He would have been so relieved and happy for me. I went by his burial spot a few months back, as I was on that side of town, after having given blood (a responsibility to society I learned from his constant example). As I left the parking lot and headed to his spot, I suddenly thought “Will he recognize me?” I slammed on my brakes and immediately burst into tears. It was all so overwhelming. Was it the blood drive? Missing him? The idea that he would have thoughts about what I’ve done with my life? I don’t know. But your post gave me another opportunity to revisit some of that thinking. My dad was one of my favorite people in this world. I know I disappointed him a lot, at times (weight, life choices, career choice, etc…). But I also know that he loved me very much and only wanted me to be happy. So he would be pleased for me now. Thanks for helping me remember that. It will be a nice thought on those tough days…

  2. m.a. says:

    those songs were great.

    they were classics.

    they were always in tune.

    so what if the word wabash hung on for 5,379 beats. it was perfect.

    i’ve been waiting for your phone call for eighteen years, i guess you don’t love me anymore.

    classic. timeless.

    it must be jelly cause jam don’t shake like that.

    perfection.

    caldonia (sp) caldonia…what makes your big head so hard?

    gosh, the first white rapper.

    classic. now pass me the stngers.

    oh wait, i am doing weight watchers core.

    yea, right.

    m.a.

  3. Jane says:

    more of dad’s favorites:

    your red scarf matches your eyes, you close the cover before striking, your father’s got the shipfitter blues, and loving you has made me bananas.

    i can’t get started with you

    when the saints go marching in

    saint james infirmary

    moonglow

    Sing sing sing [especially the carnegie hall version]

    and, of course, as my sister said above, often followed with stingers. a wonderful lubricant for dad’s voice!

    and some wonderful recipes, like the world’s best blue cheese dressing.

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