I see my father in my toddler son when he looks at me – they share those same gorgeous blue eyes that can cut glass or melt your heart. Their eyes are filled with love and challenge; the kind of love that only a parent and child can understand. The kind of love that can endure temper tantrums, heal boo-boos, and teach you significant life lessons. Their blue eyes change colors with their temperament and health, almost like a chameleon. When they’re not feeling well, their pale skin exemplifies the color into a rich, deep blue and when they’re feeling proud, they are just right mix of blue and whatever color confidence might be. Interestingly enough, they share the same I love you, but don’t like your right now look as well – I’ve seen it enough from my father in my teenage years to immediately recognize it in my own child, even though he’s still just a baby.
I see my father in my son when he smiles – their eyes squint in the same kind of way. Their personalities are infectious, they’re both social beings, and thrive on attention. They even have a similar forced chuckle when they find something funny. The best thing about their smile is that it’s so genuine – you can actually feel the happiness beaming from their bodies like warm, bright, glowing rays from the sun, which his why people love to be around them.
The best thing about their smile is that it’s so genuine – you can actually feel the happiness beaming from their bodies like warm, bright, glowing rays from the sun, which his why people love to be around them.
I see my father in my son when he’s happily eating my father’s secret family recipe of homemade spaghetti that I’ve prepared for him for dinner; it’s one of his favorite meals. They both love it greatly and could devour large plates of it – more than any one man or boy should ever eat in one sitting! I thoroughly enjoy watching my son gobble down this meal, not because he’s adorable and completely covered in tomato sauce when he’s done, but because it almost feels like my father is sitting right there at the table too, enjoying this special meal with us.
I see my father in my son when he gets frustrated or doesn’t get his way. They’re both wired with the same short fuse that can instantaneously take them from zero to one hundred. They’re passionate, driven, and intense. I see this mostly when my toddler son is trying to tell me what he wants, but can’t quite get the words out. When he is pointing and saying what he needs, as best as he can, but can’t quite articulate, just as my father did. Secretly, I enjoy being one of the only people who can actually understand the slurred, mumbled language they speak. Sometimes it makes me feel privileged or honored that I can help them in that way, however, I wish I never had to have this role with my father.
They’re both wired with the same short fuse that can instantaneously take them from zero to one hundred. They’re passionate, driven, and intense.
I see my father in my son when I’m wiping the drool from his chin. How I wish I didn’t have this memory. Although my son drools from teething, my father had a very different cause. His weakening throat muscles weren’t working well anymore, causing the saliva to build up in his mouth and sometimes fall out the sides. Oftentimes he would choke, so I would use a suction tube to stop the drainage and make him more comfortable. Just as I do with my son, I would wipe his chin and clean him up without hesitation, all the while, his blue eyes were silently saying thank you.
I saw my father in my son when he was learning to walk. He would take a few steps, stumble, and then cling to something to help him stand. For my sweet toddler boy, this was an exciting milestone, however when my father experienced this same stumbling, it meant something very different and grim. See, my father had been suffering for 5 years. Suffering from a terrible disease that took everything from him, including his ability to talk and eat, walk or travel, socialize, function, and eventually breathe. As his body and muscles atrophied, we all prayed he would continue to be able to walk as it was about the only thing he had left going for him, but, towards the end, his disease began to rob him of this as well.
For my sweet toddler boy, this was an exciting milestone, however when my father experienced this same stumbling, it meant something very different and grim.
I see my father in my son when I hand him a pencil and ask him to draw for me. He clumsily holds it the same way my father did when he would try to write me notes to articulate his words during the last few days and months of his life. He would scribble a few things here and there, mostly happy faces and sad faces, or little hearts that meant I love you; they weren’t words, but it was enough – I knew exactly what he meant. Just as I now do with my son, I saved many of these scribblings, as it was one of our only ways of communicating to each other in this stage of his life; and on this paper, I hold special memories of my father.
I see my father in my son as I put him to bed every evening and we go through our nightly bedtime routine. I am always brought back to that hot summer night in July, when for the first time, I went to bed without saying goodnight to my father. It wasn’t on purpose; I actually forgot. Typically, we would have sat together for a while, sometimes a long while, watching TV and I would rub his hands and feet, which were sore and achy from not functioning well anymore. Honestly, sometimes I would try to avoid this nightly routine because, although I loved this time together, he would keep me there for much longer than I ever intended to be, but I didn’t purposefully avoid him on this July 14 night. Somehow, before falling asleep, I realized we had not done our regular nightly TV bonding session and I felt bad. I even said to my husband, Ah, I forgot to say goodnight to my Dad!, but it was late, so my husband and I agreed that I could just wait until tomorrow, but tomorrow never came.
I am always brought back to that hot summer night in July, when for the first time, I went to bed without saying goodnight to my father.
On July 15, 2007, at about 5:00 a.m., my father, Dominic Andriacchi, died from cardiac arrest caused by Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. I never got to say goodbye or goodnight. I think of this everyday single day, especially when I am putting my son to bed. I think of my father every time I squeeze my son, give him that goodnight kiss, give him one more hug, and tell him I love him. I will never miss this opportunity again; my father taught me the importance of this.
I never got to say goodbye or goodnight. I think of this everyday single day…
I see my father in myself when my son wakes up from a bad dream and I comfort him. I assure him, just as my dad did with me in his darkest of days and scariest of times, that everything is going to be alright, even though I have no way of being certain of this. As my parent my father was strong, even when he was dying. As the child, I believed him when he said everything would be OK. I wish I could have done that in return for him; maybe I did? In hindsight, I wish I could have assured him that everything would be alright, especially that one last time – but I didn’t and I often have to ask myself, why? Was this always part of the plan? Would I have known I was going to be saying goodbye instead of goodnight that night? I’ll never know.
I see my father in my son every day. His blue eyes are looking at me with love, thanks, and confidence. I know they are both proud of the job I’m doing as a daughter, wife, mother, and woman. But, if I’m being honest, I’m just doing the best I can; thankfully they both saw and see so much more in me. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to know my father, but my son never will – which is why I am so proud to see so much of my father in my son.
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