“Because I said so!”

How many times did you hear your father say, “Because I said so”?  And just like that, you knew there was no questioning his decision.

I heard it a lot growing up. Although in my father’s defense, we had at least six kids running around our house in Winnetka, Illinois at any one time. Throw in some friends and neighbors to the mix, and my dad was clearly out-matched.

Yesterday was the first Father’s Day we celebrated without my father. The void left in his passing is still very present. For me, it’s an emptiness in my gut surrounded by shades of sadness.

When I look…and I mean really look, at the photo of my dad above, I see the essence of a man who was happy, content, and very proud. Can you see it?

You know that feeling you get when you come home from a long, hard day and you’re greeted at the door by your overly excited, loving dog! I mean, talk about unconditional positive regard! Well, that’s similar to how I felt every time I was around my father. He had a way of making you feel like you were the most important person in the world. My mom’s the same way.

But when all is said and done, probably the biggest factor that will become a prominent staple in my dad’s legacy is evident in the family he left behind. Allow me to explain.

My dad was an only child who grew up in a fatherless home. His mother had to work to make ends meet, leaving him alone to fend for himself with no role models to speak of. Not exactly the ideal childhood. He ended up going to military school and eventually joined the Army before meeting my mother…and that’s when his life changed forever!

Together with my mom, my parents had six kids. The six kids all got married and had a total of twelve kids of their own. Those twelve kids are now grown and have had seven kids. Add spouses to the mix and we are talking about a family of thirty-three (and growing).

Not my actual family

Are you seeing it yet?

Part of my father’s legacy was to create the very family he never had. And not just a family, I might add. We’re talking about a family that exudes the traits he exemplified throughout his life. How cool is that…especially if you’re my dad who never experienced what a family even was until he started his own.

So I’d like to end with a Father’s Day toast to my dad.

Dad, it’s an honor to be your son and a member of this incredible family you and mom created. Thanks for everything you did and everything you stood for while on this earth. You’ve not only made a difference in the lives of your family, but you’ve made this world a better place as a result. Happy Father’s Day old man!

Your happy, content, and proud son, Gregory.

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