June 17, 2016
Father’s Day- Am I a Good Dad?
I’ve been a Dad almost 13 years now. I will never forget the news that Nicole was pregnant with our first child when I was 35. When I found out that we were expecting a boy I was over the moon excited! I was scared yet so happy to finally become a Dad.
Would I be a good Dad?
I mean I loved kids my whole life growing up. I still remember hearing my Mom always say, “Nicky loves kids! He’s going to be a good Father someday!” But would I? I mean I’ve coached boys and girls on the soccer field for years and they’ve sorta liked me. I got a small taste of fatherhood taking care of my 10-year younger brother Aldo and watched him grow up. (OK maybe Aldo is a bad example- I’m kidding kinda) But being 100% responsible for my very own child?
My Father was my one and only point of reference on this Dad-thing.
My Dad (Papa) is the hardest worker I know. His cards were definitely stacked against him as a young boy of 13 when he immigrated to America. Not knowing the English language he assimilated to America’s culture yet kept his old-fashioned roots and values from his native Campobello di Licata, Sicily.
Papa worked here in Buffalo and sent money to his parents back home so that his two brothers, a sister and his parents could join him in Buffalo. Once his family was reunited, and being the eldest responsible sibling that knew English, my Dad was the “go to” guy for everything! You see my father had two mentally challenged siblings who needed financial and emotional support. Never once did he let his parents down and did everything he could to help his family right to the very end of his parents’ life and after. What amazes me is all of the responsibilities he juggled and never once did I hear him complain.
He loves and supports his wife Gina, my mother, even if he doesn’t always agree with her. They have been together over 52 years now.
Papa is the ultimate problem-solver and often sees the big picture in things. He can view a problem as if he was looking at the situation from high above in a helicopter. Papa never went to college but he is the smartest man I know. He watched the News after work each night and read the Sunday Courier Express/Buffalo News everyday with a grain of salt, often relaying his message to his children not to believe everything you read or hear.
Papa opened his hair salon in Kenmore in 1968, the year I was born. When I was a young boy he would take me to work with him once in awhile and teach me to how to wash hair, sweep, collect money and give change, etc. I feel those days in the Shop with my Father were the root of my entrepreneurial beginnings. His shop was not too far from his parents’ home where he would pass by any chance he could to read mail and check on his family. Then he came home to his five children and wife for dinner. Papa always brought us a surprise and we ate together as a family every night.
Papa coached my U14-16 youth soccer teams. Why? My brother Mike didn’t make the Italia team tryouts and I did. So my Dad rounded up a bunch of boys and made his own team to make sure my brother had a team to play on. It was a difficult decision but the next year I left my team and went to play for my Dad and with my brother Mike. I’m so glad I did. So many great memories.
So how could I measure up to everything my Papa was, and did? I mean the man is truly selfless and so dedicated to the ones he loves.
Today, I understand that I was my Father’s understudy. All along I was being groomed for the position of Dad without me even knowing it tsx86vq. My Father isn’t the most open person in the world when it comes to saying I’m proud of you or giving affection or saying I love you. However, he is a man of character who always leads by example and continues to set the bar ultra-high for his five children. I am lucky to have the best teacher and mentor a guy could ever ask for.
I can’t help but think he’s smiling inside when we visit him on Old Orchard every Sunday (even if he doesn’t show it). There are times I can feel my Father watching me as I interact with my boys. I look and smile at him. Papa smiles back and always says the same thing to me, “ENJOY IT… ENJOY IT!“.
At that moment I realize that I have followed very closely in my Father’s footsteps. My three boys Primo, Nico & Brando really do have a great Dad thanks to my Papa and their Nonno!
Happy Father’s Day!