Summer in my hometown is long and nice. When I was a kid we used to go to spend all day at the beach. My favorite moment was when my dad would come after work, I can still picture in my mind every frame of that moment, his blue shirt opened up a bit to show part of the chest, the short sleeve raised above the arm, the pants similar to those used in tennis with colored pockets, and Ray-Ban sunglasses, of course.
I would look at him in awe, then wait the moment he will join us in the water. We used to go far away, me following him with a large donut-shaped lifebuoy. One day, when I was 7 or 8 yo, he asked me if I wanted to learn to swim. I remember we were so far that I could barely see my mother standing and waving hands to us, probably screaming at my father why he took me so far. I did not even think a second and said yes, so he started explaining to me how to do it and moved a bit far from me, right after he had pinched a hole in my donut, I realized that the donut was deflating. The first seconds I panicked and started looking around very scared, trying to find his face. I saw him few meters away from me, laughing. I started moving and reached him, and he was like "you see, you did it!". I swam!
He told me lay on his back and grab him, and so I did. We reached the land and boy, that trip was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. I never felt so safe, so strong.
When my father passed away, I was devastated. I felt like the first moments when my "donut" started deflating, but the difference is that he would not be there, no matter where I looked. I spent a lot of time denying his death to myself, I even refused for years to go to visit his grave.
That feeling of being lost at sea has followed me for many years and made me make many mistakes, but the biggest mistake I did was trying to be "like him". It took me way too many years to understand that this cannot be possible.
Talking to a dear friend recently I got this very simple answer:
You cannot be like him because we are all different, you cannot be someone else you got to be yourself.
It's true, but what I also realized only recently is that well, I am not him but I am the person that he always wanted me to be. and that makes me incredibly proud.
A quote from my favorite books says
Every man is worth just as much as the things he busies himself with.
I have been busy in the last years building a better self, and what helped me in that was to embrace my father's principles, first of all, the love for the family. And I am quite proud of the results I got.
My dad passed away on the same day as my birthday, the 24th of September. I have never celebrated my birthday since then, I hate this day, I hate the whole month of September.
I have just one big dream in my life and make this dream come true is the best way to keep my father's legacy alive, and honor him.
Today I won't celebrate, but I look forward to the day that I make this dream come true and when that day comes, I want to sit at the head of the table put my favorite coppola on, grab a glass of wine and say
Happy birthday to me