My dad has been gone for close to twenty years now, yet this Father's Day week he is closer to my heart than he has been in many years.
If he were still alive, II am sure we would have been sharing in the excitement of the Stanley Cup playoffs over the past few weeks, culminating in the Bruins' victory over the Vancouver Canucks last night in Game 7.
It was an excitement we shared 39 years ago when the Bruins last won the Cup. Since he was born in 1925, he was alive for all of the other Cup victories by the B's in 1929, 1939, 1941, 1970 and 1972.
The Boston Bruins were the first professional team to which my dad introduced me. I recall fondly, as a four year old, sitting on his lap, barely being able to ring the cow bells that he and my mother took to home games back when I was a young kid then. For many years, he had season tickets to the Bruins games at the old Boston Garden, and he made sure that his girls grew up to be fans.
In fact, when asked how I wanted to celebrate my birthdays in mid-February, I always chose to attend the Bruins games with a few of my friends. My dad was happy to oblige, and always managed to get us some of the best seats in the house.
A three-sport captain (football, hockey and baseball) and standout athlete at the Riverdale School in the Bronx, New York and at Reading (MA) High, my dad was ready to sign a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox when he graduated in 1944, but elected to serve his country instead; joining the Navy and serving on the aircraft carrier Bon Homme Richard in the war in the Pacific. While baseball was his best sport (he played both pitcher and catcher, and had a no-hitter for Riverdale), he was also a hockey goalie and a talented linebacker on his football team.
I often wondered if he missed not having a son to pass his love of sports on to. He claims that he never did and that he loved teaching and playing sports with his daughters. If it wasn't throwing a football or a baseball in the backyard along with all the neighbor kids, it was pond hockey, skiing, swimming, golf, paddle tennis, tennis, water skiing or horseback riding. He wanted us to be strong with a solid foundation of exercise and sports, and what better place than in the outdoors.
Dads play special role So, as the nation celebrates Father's Day, I will be thinking of Dad and how much he would have enjoyed the Bruins' victory in the Stanley Cup.
Thanks, Dad, for all that you did for me.