On behalf of my dad’s siblings, my siblings, my niece and nephew, and my mom, thank you all so much for all of the love and support through this tough time.
As kids, we’d ask dad what he wanted for his birthday or for Christmas and he would jokingly shrug us off with, “A fifty foot Hatteras.”
Then one of us would say, “No dad, realllllly, what do you want?”
His trump card to this conversation would always be, “How about peace and quiet?”
And we could never give him “peace and quiet.” One— because we were four kids that were just as loud as he was.
And two— because “peace and quiet” to him was doing whatever put a smile on my mom’s face.
My dad’s presence can be summed up quite succinctly.
He just made the world feel like a safe place.
He was the immediate protector of, and superhero-like role model to four siblings, four children, two grandchildren, and his beloved wife.
His face would light up the brightest while playing with his two grandchildren.
With the help of my mom and his strong sense of faith, he took the lessons that his parents taught him, polished them up, and handed them down to us kids with an incredible sense of love.
He truly gave us the courage to face any situation head on and he bent over backwards to make sure we had exactly what we needed to thrive in this world.
His presence conveyed a feeling that there was never anything to worry about.
At first, if I’m honest, I had a hard time imagining my dad in heaven, but I’ll take a moment here to share some thoughts on what I came up with.
My dad’s version of heaven would have a garage with tools to work on anything and everything. I almost imagine that he would never even care about what he was fixing just so long as he was doing it for someone that he loved.
There’s more used cars than probably necessary in his version of heaven⏤ but this would ensure there was always some sort of something that needed fixing. And God bless the salesperson who clocked in that day to sell him a car.
There would even be one⏤ ok, mayyyybe two, cuss words in his heaven.
Up there, he’d have the best view of Gillette Stadium. And it’d be the perfect place for him to over analyze every single Patriots play and off-season decision.
My dad would find so much joy volunteering his time coaching and being a positive influence on the next generation. Though he would coach the game of football, his players would later understand his analogies and comparisons as invaluable life lessons about what it means to be a good person. Just don’t show up late, alright?
There would be a few beers in my dad’s heaven. And he’d be drinking them after a hard day’s work with a group of friends that would laugh, joke, and poke fun at each other like the best of ‘em. Roasting each other would actually be their love language⏤ and the best jeers would be yelled at full volume no matter the setting.
Speaking of loved ones. In my dad’s heaven, he’d be surrounded by people that know him for his big smile, loud laughs, (well, loud everything, really), his strong and welcoming presence, and what a fun person he was to be around.
One of my favorite things about attending Mass Maritime was being able to hear all about the fingerprint my dad left on that school. These stories came from everyone who had met him, from admin and career services, to COMCAD, and there were even a couple professors and coaches that had the extreme and utmost pleasure of teaching both of us. The best stories though, always came from his classmates that I would meet along the way. For obvious reasons to those involved, we’ll save those stories for a beer after Mass.
I think in my dad’s version of heaven he would somehow find the most caring, selfless, and motherly woman. They’d share an indescribable love with each other and they would work with all of their heart, every single day for the better part of 40 years to build a virtuous family together. They’d see their kids through good times and hard times and as a family, they’d get through anything.
So if you’re catching what I’m trying to say, I think the main reason I initially struggled to imagine my dad actually up in heaven is because to the best of his ability he spent his life building his version of heaven right down the street at the corner of Lakeview Drive and Old Forge Road. And the thing that brought him the most joy was sharing it with all of you.