My father just turned 77 on Thursday. He and my mother are still alive, married and well. Early in the morning, my kids and I gave him a call to sing happy birthday. I think about how amazing it is to have the ability to call either one of my parents on any given day and be able to speak with them. Most of my friends can’t. I’m very fortunate to have this in my life and I take advantage of it as often as I can. Life is short. The older I get, the more I realize how precious each moment is.
I think about the things my father did for me when I was a child. I remember when he used to get on his knees, take off his glasses and I used kid boxing gloves to pretend box with him. I remember how he used to take me to football practice, basketball practice, exposed me briefly to martial arts and other sports like baseball and tennis.
He worked long hard hours to keep the bills paid and moved his family from Bloomfield to Manchester Connecticut for a better life, education and surroundings in the suburbs back in 1973. We lived a very comfortable existence growing up. Since he was the sole breadwinner for a while, he had to do what was necessary in order to keep things together. My mother stayed at home until we got old enough to be on our own. She did her part in doing what was necessary to help my father raise a family. Her role as a stay at home parent was crucial to our development. Being a father now, I totally understand the things they both did but never told me about.
For instance, when I pay for things for the children , they have no idea how it is done. They just want the admission paid to the amusement park. They want to jump on the hotel bed while we are on vacation like I used to, not knowing how much this is setting me back financially. They want good healthy food at dinner, they want new toys, they want swimming lessons, new bikes, clean clothes…the list goes on and on. Right now, I am fortunate to provide what they need, not necessarily what they want. I ain’t getting them no iPad! Especially since I can’t afford an expensive toy for myself.
My father provided everything our family needed and was a man who exemplified leadership and integrity. A true head of household. I realize all of this stuff as my kids got older. I sometimes wonder if I’m turning into him. In many ways I am, but in some ways I know I am the total opposite. My mother was the one who was supportive of everything I wanted to do musically. My father was of the mindset of being able to have a job that provided stability. He wanted his kids to be able to have the skills that would enable them to be able to get a steady job with benefits. I totally understand, but at the same time, I know there is more than one way to be a success. Growing up in Connecticut, many people are not exposed to the entertainment industry and how lucrative it can be. There are all sorts of career opportunities. Maybe now he can see things a little differently since I have become a successful full time musician. I want to expose my kids to as much as I possibly can. There is a whole world out there to explore and I will support their interests wherever they lie. I still want them to understand the risks of any career path – whether is is a CPA or a film editor. There are risks and reward in everything we do in life. I think the biggest difference with my father and I is that I tend to be less risk averse.
I must say, he did pay for some of my drum equipment later in life – a big help. Even though he may not have seen a musician’s life as a long lasting career path, he was supportive of me throughout my life, and to this day, always has my back if times are rough.
It takes a strong man to raise three kids in the suburbs of a rapidly changing culture after the unrest in the 60’s. He learned from the mistakes his father made and chose to be fully present in his kids lives. I think that made a massive impression on me. That is probably why I refused to leave my kids while my ex tried to kick me out of her life as well as our kids lives. I was going nowhere. I’m here for my kids just like my father was for me and my sisters.
Who knows what my kids will do when they get older. I just want to be there to give them guidance like my father did. I will be their emotional, spiritual and financial support. I will be there when they fall, and I hope to still be able to answer their call at 77 like my father just did last Thursday.