Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
Star Wars was probably the first movie (in a theater) I ever remember seeing WITH my father. I remember thinking “cool, I’m hangin’ out with dad.” He’s really been my best friend ever since. He was tremendously influential to me growing up. I admired his work ethic, intelligence and unique ability to become virtually anyone’s friend. He was truly the perfect package when it came to people you want to look up to in life.
Dad was the best man at my wedding in 1994. He gave me some of the best advice about marriage… by saying nothing at all. One of the fondest memories I have of my dad is just prior to the wedding ceremony, he steps into the room where I was waiting, stone-faced, solemn, expressionless, and says in the best monotone voice he can muster, “Tony… it’s time.” I felt like “hey, is this a wedding or a wake?”
I continued to look to my father as a guiding light. In my best of times, he would always point out things that I might overlook. In my worst of times, his advice and support was inspirational and always welcome. There was never a time that I did not want to hear from or about my dad. He just seemed like that little voice in the back of my head saying “be sure to check the details.”
I continue to remind myself that it was my father who was my inspiration in photography. Growing up he took lots of pictures of us kids (I have two brothers and a sister), and it was a G-R-E-A-T night when the slides came back from the drug store. Dad would carefully load them into the carousel or slide tray (more than once loading them upside down, backwards or both) and we would all watch the magic white screen to see what goofy stuff had happened to us over the last month or so. You are probably not surprised to learn that ALL of those slides are still in metal cases, stored under a bookshelf at mom’s house.
There are those who say I look like my father, have the same mannerisms and kindness as my father, and a respect for people… just like dad. If I could only have one of those, it would be the respect. To this day, people genuinely entertain me. I think dad got a kick out of the antics of some people, too. There were always moments growing up where dad seemed to chuckle at the silly things that people would do. So do I. In private, I laugh uncontrollably… and usually with Diana, who enjoys laughter just as much and almost as often.
To be fair, dad wasn’t the only great influence on my life. But he was a significant contributor.
He’s been gone two years today. I’ve made other blog posts about the days leading up to his death. I don’t need to recount those here. This is a celebration, after all.
I’d like to propose a toast… lift your glasses, be they adult spirits, juice boxes, or a tall drink of ice cold water… to the man who is truly a hero to me. Rest In Peace, dad. 🙂