Mom asked me to write his obituary for the newspaper, and I don't think it will be difficult to find the words to describe the man he was. He was born in New York City, and grew up in a tenement in a very poor neighborhood. He escaped poverty, first to become a Merchant Mariner, and then a chef.
He never had children of his own until he married my mom, at which point he bravely became stepfather to five sons and daughters, most of whom were teenagers. Despite the innumerable challenges of gaining an instant family, he was a devoted and loving husband to my mother, and a wonderful father to us.
He had so many friends. Too many to count, much less name. Everyone who got to know my dad loved him. Everyone. He was that kind of guy.
I don't have that many photos of me with my father, probably because I was either taking the pictures, or dodging them. But this morning I unearthed one of us together on a very fine day thirty-one years ago. It's one of those moments when he was just being my dad:
I was so blessed to have you in my life, Anthony. Thank you for choosing to be my father, and for all the love and kindness you gave me. May your journey be safe, your next place be filled with birds and dogs and a huge kitchen, and once you're there all that you know is joy and peace. I will see you again someday.