Two years ago today, my father died. I have many wonderful memories of him -- screaming at the players (in person or on TV) during Chicago Bears games, taking a drive in the car, listening to Buddy Rich at the Milwaukee Summerfest. And a few less-than-wonderful memories, one of the most vivid being a phone conversation we had while I was away at college, when he told me, "Love is sacrifice."
At the time, it felt like a slap in the face, like an accusation that he loved me more than I loved him because he gave me more than I could -- or would -- give him. Almost 20 years later I now understand he was simply stating a fact. Part of parenting is sacrificing for your child, and those sacrifices are a loving act, however unrequited.
My father did sacrifice for me, and while I will always be more grateful than he perhaps knew for the education he afforded me and the lifestyle he provided, that wasn't what I loved most about him. I loved him for who he was, for what he loved: bing cherry ice cream, chocolate ice cream, ice cream bars fresh from the Dove store, Good Humor ice cream bars fresh from the truck, any kind of ice cream, the city of Chicago, the architecture, the theatre, Maxwell Street, Vienna hot dogs and polish sausages, Bridgeport, politics, jazz, Lake Michigan, Navy Pier, Da Bears, the Bulls, the Sox, those cows, L'escargot, Rocky's, Mike Royko, Crain's Chicago Business, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Tribune, talk radio, my mom, my sister, my brother, my stepmother, her children, their children, his parents, his brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, their children. He was a man of tremendous love and that love is still with us.
I love you, Dad. Always.
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