Well the years have gone and I've grown
From that seed you sown.
I didn't think there'd be so many steps
I'd have to learn on my own.
But I was young and I didn't know what to do
When I saw your best steps stolen away from you.
Now I'll do what I can
I'll walk like a Man...
My childhood ended thirty-three years ago today. Mine is by no means a unique experience. My experience is by no means the worst experience a child can endure. Every day the world reminds us of all of the ills taking place in it that far exceed the death of one's father in terms of impact upon a child. Every day.
For although my childhood ended on this very day thirty-three years ago, my life did not. Nor did the lives of my five older brothers and sisters. Nor did my mother's life. Mom has lived such a long life in fact that she now has lived longer as a widow than she did as a wife - no small accomplishment considering my parents were less than two weeks away from celebrating either their thirty-first or thirty-second wedding anniversary when my father died.
I spent a number of years in these three-plus decades that have passed since he died in which I thought about my father hardly at all. I suppose that started to change when Margaret and I got married and suddenly I was a father myself. My appreciation for the man my father was grew exponentially the more steps I took in his shoes. He had a harder gig than I had ever fathomed.
I suppose had he lived that at some point we would have passed through what was a fairly bleak period in our day-to-day and have come out on the other side. Maybe even as friends. It matters not. He did not. We did not. We were what we were and who we were. I still am.
If I was a betting man, then I would wager that WPK, Sr. has been smiling a lot this spring. The single best thing we ever shared was our love for the New York Rangers - even though rare was the spring that they advanced in the playoffs as deep as they have this year. As I have watched the Rangers play this post-season I have thought of my father often and our trips to MSG on the New Jersey Transit train from New Brunswick. Happiness was a Sunday night Rangers home game with a pre-game stop in Penn Station for a Nedick's hot dog and an Orange Julius.
By this time next week my son shall be a husband. I am at peace with the fact that I shall have achieved something that my father did not. I will have borne witness to my son take a bride. I smile in anticipation at the thought of it. And I smile too because I suspect that WPK, Sr. would be smiling too - were he there to see the ceremony himself. Perhaps the most important lesson he ever shared with me - out of all of the ones he ever imparted - was this one: Be there. For once a moment is gone, it is lost to the ravages of time forever. And once it is gone, you shall never retrieve it.
No matter how fast you run...
...no matter how far you walk.