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Life Without ‘My Old Man’ a Father’s Day Tribute

By: Roxanne Steele

Ok, I’m already crying…..  I lost my daddy a long long time ago.  Over 20 years now, June 8th, 1996 so right before Father’s Day.  As Father’s Day approaches every year, I have to prepare myself for that lump in my throat I get thinking about my dad.  Zac Brown Band’s song, My Old Man, kills me in a beautiful way.

My dad, Michael Anthony, was a simple man, a religious man, a quiet man who was born and raised in Boston, MA   He was a star athlete who played baseball and hockey.  My dad lived for watching sports.  He would have one game on the tv and his ear to the radio listening to another game.   I get my love of sports from my dad.  He was in the Army and loved telling stories of his days when he served.    He also loved drinking beer, eating Cheez- It crackers and building puzzles.  That was my dad in a nut shell.   He later moved from the East coast to California where he became an aircraft mechanic working on 747 airplanes.  My dad loved to smoke his cherry tobacco in his pipe and once again he LOVED baseball.  My dad died of a heart attack at Dodger Stadium after the game.  The meaning, “he was a die hard baseball fan”  really rings true with my daddy!  I’ve yet to go back to Dodger Stadium because I still don’t think I can.

Shortly after my dad died I landed my dream job in radio in Chicago and moved.  At the time I was living and working in radio out in Arizona.  I didn’t know a soul in Chicago and nobody knew that I had just lost my dad.  I mourned his death privately.  The radio DJ is suppose to be happy on air especially when starting a new job in a major market like Chicago!  I waited a long time for this so I had to keep it together.   Lucky for me I’ve always been good at wearing my poker face.   That’s the Gemini in me.  My new boss was the only one who knew because the day after my dad died I was scheduled to call him back, but I didn’t.   Instead my future boss called me and when I answered and sounded horrible he asked me who died.   I told him my dad.  He was joking on his end but quickly realized I was serious.  Naturally he felt terrible for his bad timing and apologized.  What are the odds right.   A few months after I moved to Chicago I went to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field with a few of my new friends.   What a cool ass stadium in the middle of the city!  I was sitting there watching the game looking at the beautiful field when I lost it and I mean hysterically lost it.  I couldn’t stop crying thinking about my dad.  Needless to say my meltdown opened up that conversation with my new friends about losing my dad….   I’m not sure if it made it any easier or harder for me, but at least my new workplace friends were aware of my mental state.   Fragile and broken.

I was in my early 20’s just starting my “adult” life when this happened and it rocked my world.  Losing my dad wasn’t  something I was prepared for nor did I imagine would happen.    It’s a long complicated story about my dad and my life, which is why I’m writing a book.  It’s a puzzle piece I’m still building.

Another Father’s Day weekend is here and I’m heading out to Nashville to surprise my Uncle Jerry ( my dads brother) for his 80th birthday!  I have a lot of family flying in from all over.   Family I haven’t seen in over 20 years.  Family my kids and husband have never met.   My dad was the oldest of 9 kids, the amazing big brother!   I’ve learned so much more about my dad and the man he was after he died from my Uncles.  My dad was a star baseball player who was once scouted by the Boston Red Sox but because he helped take care of the family he turned down that opportunity.  I never knew that about my dad growing up.   It breaks my heart that I didn’t know a lot about him when he was alive.  Over the years I have come to really understand and respect the man my dad was and all the things he taught me.  It was more than I realized as I grow older.

This Father’s Day weekend enjoy your dad if you still have him.  It is truly a blessing to be able to celebrate this special day with the man who made you. Take the time to get to know your dad before it’s too late.   Dads mean everything to a child, big or small, here or gone.  I’m so thankful for the silent love I still feel in my heart from my dad, my angel above.   Happy Father’s Day to ‘My Old Man.’