July 18, 2002 – I was seventeen years old and looking forward to my final year in high school. About a month prior, I took a school trip to New York. One week prior my family and I went on our first real vacation. It was definitely on track to being the best summer break of my life. We were all still glowing from much time spent under the sun as we coasted shore to shore during a seven day cruise in the Caribbean. It started out like any other day. I was set to go in to work at 5pm, which meant I had the majority of the day to relax.
As I think back to that day, I don’t recall what he was doing, I just remember feeling slightly annoyed with my dad. Four o’clock finally rolls around and dad is headed out the door for swim practice. It wasn’t something I made a habit out of or something I did all the time, but this time I said, “Bye dad, I love you.” He of course responded the same. Those words to this day resonate in my mind because little did I know that they would be the last words my father ever heard me say.
Ten years later, so much of my father continues to live through us. Much of this day, I spent reflecting, not just on my childhood and life with my father, but also over the last ten years. After he died, I always believed a piece of me died with him. As I spent this day remembering, I realized that I didn’t just lose a part of myself, I gained a part of him. His confidence, his crazy sense of humor, his genius intelligence, and most of all his spirit.
To celebrate his life, the family got together for dinner at his favorite restaurant. Sitting before me was proof that my father still lives. There’s Alicia, beautiful and smart; so smart that she’s capable of remembering random things most don’t. Just like dad she could probably list off every capitol of all 50 states. Then there’s Melissa, again beautiful and smart; working towards her PhD. Like dad she’s simply a genius in math and science. And finally there’s me. Unlike Alicia, my memory can only hold important details… I’m lucky I even know all 50 states. Unlike Melissa, I probably couldn’t even count my way out of cereal box. But like them, I share their beauty and smart. You see, dad was not only a genius at math and science and a pro at trivial pursuit, but he was an amazing artist and writer. And that is what I inherited.
Then, there’s the newest addition to our family. Baby Aiden. His birth alone is proof that my father carries on with us into the next generation.
I was amazed by the many comments from those who knew him through swimming. Ten years later and dad is still very much alive through our memories. And through the memories of those who were fortunate enough to have known him.
RIP Dad. Your legend continues. 🙂