Every Father’s Day when I was growing up, I made a construction paper card for my dad with colorful bubble letters. Inside I wrote a very heart felt message. In the last one I gave him, the summer before he suddenly passed away, I thanked him for his help and support in my learning anatomy as part of my beginner’s mat Pilates training. I thanked him for helping me get on a good, true path.
Looking back at this card when I was home a couple weeks ago for my brother’s engagement party, I realized how meaningful it was that I used such a serious phrase, ‘to be put on a good, true path.’ Maybe unconsciously, somewhere deep down, I knew it was my last Father’s Day card to my father—even though he passed away later that fall without any forewarning.
There was something about my connection with my father that was utopian. After he passed, I expressed to others my gratitude for the best 20 years with my father that I could have ever asked for, and the most supportive, nurturing dad I could have ever dreamed up.
I felt like my childhood and adolescence with my father were a real gift. Something that could never be taken away, since it had already happened. It could not be undone, no matter how sad and tragic his way-too-soon passing was. And it was a solace for me to know this.
Growing up, whenever I would give my dad his annual Father’s Day card, he would say, “Every day is Father’s Day!”
When his firstborn was born (that’d be me!) he was 43 years old. After years of medical school, residency, and fellowship and getting his private practice off the ground while trying to find a Mrs. Right that reminded him of his beloved mother who passed when he was 32, he started his family a little older than the average man.
He was 10 years older than most of my peers’ dads and one of my friend’s father was actually to the date 18 years younger than him!!!
We always thought that was so cool.
Nevertheless, my father was an avid runner and nutrition enthusiast and despite his taking baby aspirin for chronic heart issues, I always thought he would live forever.
He had told my mom early on before they had kids he didn’t have that expectation. He knew the chronic heart issues that ran in his family along with some other more mild chronic ailments indicated he may likely not live well into his 80s. My mom had had this conversation with him before I was born. But I never had it with him. (That would be weird!!) So when he passed away 3 weeks shy of 65, it was quite a shock to me—and really to all my family and those who knew him because of how vibrant and youthful he acted (and looked!).
When I was growing up, every day was Father’s Day for my father.
Now, as an adult, every day is Father’s Day for me.
He was my main inspiration in pursuing nutrition and exercise science as a career, teaching me everything he knew in the field when I was a kid as I read the nutrition newsletters he received in the mail. Most importantly, living a vital life and setting an example for how regular exercise infuses your life with health and joy.
Every day I venture out into the world to help people as a nutrition and exercise professional is a testament to my father.