Age Is Just A Number

It is Sunday July 20th, 2008. And I am admittedly feeling melancholy. Today would have been the 80th birthday for my dad. I can’t believe I am not celebrating it with him. I also can’t believe he has been gone for over 8 months now.

It was strange how quickly he was gone. He was healthy as a horse – hell we all thought he would live for many years to come. But, his illness came on and he was gone in 2 weeks. Really it was less than one week, as that is when he was on the ventilator. And anyone who knows my dad would understand that he was gone at that point. That just wasn’t him. He was too proud for that.

And that is the one adjective I always come back to – proud. He was such a proud man. He just held his head up high and did the best he could. He worked so hard to establish himself and run a successful business. Everyone knew Joe Occhipinti. He built a large family, and that is what he was the most proud of. Family meant the most to him. Speaking of that, he was so very proud of me.

He didn’t have to tell me he was. In fact, he rarely did. Much like the trait I inherited, he wasn’t exactly good at expressing his emotions. But I could easily tell. His beaming smile was always the true indicator.

Because of my parents splitting, I didn’t always get to see him that much. We talked a fair amount. And most of those conversations were just him listening. He loved to hear about what was going on. And I admittedly loved to “brag.” My favourite times were telling him something that he could be proud of. I knew that it made him happy. And that is what I miss the most. I dislike not having him to tell the stories to. I pick up the phone and go through my phone loop – and I sometimes find myself thinking that its time to call him. It takes a few seconds, but then I remind myself I can’t really do that.

As is natural, I wish I had told him more how I felt. Everyone of course says he knows how I felt, but it would be more comforting knowing that I told him. I wish I didn’t have to tell him those things when he was completely unresponsive with a tube down his throat. He certainly wouldn’t have wanted to see me in that state – as nothing made him more upset than seeing me upset.

Please don’t misinterpret this – we were lucky as it could have been much worse. He did not suffer, and it was not immediate and pointing either. But by the same token I don’t feel any less empty today. There is a lot left for him to hear about and be proud of – unfinished business if you will.

Now I am just sitting here praying it doesn’t rain because I want to honour dad the best way I know how – by going out and racing tonight. Love you dad,
-Michael