While my brothers could write an equal, if not better, reflection on Father’s Day, I am the only father of the bunch, so I get the privilege. I’m Jimmy, the oldest brother.
For all of the weirdness, scariness, and intense sadness many experienced last year, it did offer me at least one good opportunity, time for reflection.
Our dad, Pop, has ten kids ages 33 to 15, a wife (our mom) that he started dating in high school, a business he runs with his brothers, his mom and siblings of his own, friends, and his own hobbies, interests, and desires. By anyone’s standards, he’s a busy man.
When I think about what I’ve learned from our dad, I could fill a book. As you’ll see below, I write too many words as it is. Since I was born, Pop was my real life hero and the one I always wanted to be like. Having his name is the second highest honor of my life - only behind being able to name my son after him.
But as a new dad – Adriana will be two this month and Jimmy was born in March – the lessons I’ve learned from his actions both past and present have been the most meaningful. I’m joined by my brothers who have the same vigor and dedication to making sure our company succeeds. This obsession has sometimes taken me away from other things. I’ve felt myself drawn to my phone while holding my girl. What are sales doing today? Does the website look alright? I’ve swiped quickly to check an Instagram or to see our new embarrassing Tik Tok. The phone has many pluses and it’s also a constant pull from where you are right now. I say it’ll only take a minute or two. Many times I will address the issue, or the itch, right then and there. Only a minute or two.
When I think of our dad, it seems like he always knows the things that really matter. He never missed one meaningful event in my entire life. He has been to more field hockey, lacrosse, and football games than any man should. He’s been the workout partner for all seven of his boys and is currently training with our 15 year old, youngest brother. He never missed the opportunity for a late night donut run, and always answered the question of “can I go to my friend’s house?” with “why don’t you have them here and I’ll cook?” He has a unique and equally special relationships with all ten of his children. With 7 of us out of college, he is now a trusted career mentor, scheduling individual calls every week to make sure we’re doing things the right way.
The things that really matter always take precedent. He’s never sacrificed a minute with us for the things that matter, but don’t really matter. And it’s not that he isn’t thinking about all of those other things – he as is obsessed with his business as we are with ours. It always felt like we got him – 100% of him. He never excused himself from the table. He never missed the game for the flight, or the late night donut run for the extra sleep. He never opted for the night off when there was an opportunity for a night on. All of those minutes compound. The investment pays off. You can see it in the laughs we have, or the vacation plans, or our group chat that goes all day every day. The minutes turn into meaning.
Last year I was also able to observe our father as a son. Our grandpa (his dad) is the toughest and smartest man we knew. He was my dad’s hero, and ours. It’s tough to fully describe the impact he had in our lives. The question you’d ask if you did something great or equally horrible would usually be “does Pa know?”
Pa got sick and battled last year. My dad was with him for every waking minute. He was with him for every appointment. He was with him for the down time and the small wins. He was with him for every pill and any time he wanted to hit balls. He blew off everything and everyone for Pa because that’s what really mattered. Pa went to heaven in April 2020. We talk about him most days and think about him every day. My son was baptized last week and our dad toasted his dad because he knew how proud he would be. The minutes mattered.
Our grandpa had eight dedicated children who revered him. He was a very accomplished man, but I think at the end, he could see his true success in the way his children treated him. The minutes he spent with his kids compounded. They paid off. He passed at peace, after talking to a few of his kids on the phone about life, business, and nothing - like he did each day. He was accomplished in all ways, but especially in the ways that really mattered.
God bless all of the fathers in our lives, and if you’re one, pay attention to the best among us. With the phone and the social media craziness, our life can get pretty busy. There are those among us who know what really matters, and we should follow their lead.
Neck: Measure around the middle of your neck (at the Adam’s apple), keeping the tape a bit loose.
Chest: Measure under your arms around the fullest part of your chest.
Arm length: Bend your elbow 90 degrees and place your hand on your hip. Hold the tape at the center of the back of your neck. Measure across your shoulder to your elbow and down to your wrist. The total length is your sleeve length.
Waist: Measure around your natural waistline, keeping the tape a bit loose.