So, today is 19 years.
I think it’s weird to call it an ‘anniversary’ when ‘anniversary’ sounds more like a celebration….
but it’s been 19 years since my dad died.
I remember a time in our life when it was hard to pick out cards for him — for birthdays or Christmas or whatever — because there was this imperfect, very-human speed bump in our relationship for a few years.
He wasn’t a perfect man — no man is — but our speed bump was mostly because I took on some other peoples’ judgment of him
instead of owning my own heart about him.
His death taught me not to do that anymore.
I was a lot like him growing up — in looks, in music abilities, in writing and speaking. I learned how to imitate voices (he did a mean Yosemite Sam and Cowardly Lion — I did a terrific Cher and Rosanna Rosanna-danna.)
I was sentimental like him, only he lived in a generation and gender where it wasn’t as popular to be sensitive. Being Italian was his saving grace to express his passions about life.
He was so damn funny. Oh my god. He said the things you were too afraid to say out loud — only he said them in front of the people you never would. Speaking his version of Chinese right after the waiter had walked away then putting his chopsticks up his nose like a walrus — or flipping his pretend hair back after the ditzy blonde walked away from the counter in a store.
You’d laugh and go, “Oh my GOD, DAD! STOP!” And he’d pretend to be all serious and with decorum. Standing there all innocent, blinking his eyes. He was a tall man, with a large presence so it was like trying to hide a tree in a desert.
His death taught me a lot — about not holding other peoples’ grudges, about not judging someone different than you — or similar to you. He was the guy who’d take his last five bucks to go buy a homeless guy a meal. And then, my dad would sit and talk with the guy, and come home and write a song about it.
There was so much more about him I don’t know and would love to know.
I got a few months of intense time with him between him coming out of a coma after Easter and before he died on September 2, 1995. I don’t remember a lot of our conversations that summer because I was trying too hard to listen and remember. I learned that from his death, too — that when you try too hard, the things you want most end up being elusive.
One thing I will always hold is his great joy and delight in me. He loved me — the good, bad and ugly about me. Why? Because I was his daughter. His first born. His family.
He was fiercely committed to me — even when I wanted nothing to do with him.
He never fully benefitted from that, but he taught me something about love and because of that, I’ve been able to love people in my life who have been anything but lovely to me.
I keep my love separate, like he did. He didn’t love in a ‘tit-for-tat’ kind of way. He just loved because that’s what was on his heart. Regardless of what was on yours.
That kind of love makes me sigh and breathes life into me. Even now.
And while I don’t get him now, I do get the lessons I learned from him, because of him, in spite of him and after his life passed over to the other side.
Where he’s probably wearing some screwy apron, making impressions of some cartoon character, while he’s got a spatula in his hand making some Italian feast for the crew
and bugging Payne Stewart to play a few holes like they did back in the 80’s.
So, today I’m remembering my dad, Sam Confalone with gratitude, a lot of lessons and yes, a few tears.
Sending you love today, Dad. I think of you every day.