November 18th – Happy Birthday, Dad!
My dad is many things to me; my parent, my best friend, my workout partner, my breakfast buddy, my harshest critic, my biggest fan, and so much more. I love (and hate) that he wakes me up at 7 in the morning to get in a workout at the gym. At 55, he still kicks butt every day at CrossFit (even if burpees are involved!). He doesn’t always have the best taste in music, but we definitely share a love for food. We can always count on each other to spend the best meal of the day, breakfast, together – usually down the road from our house at the Manor Grille. When I need advice, he is always the first person I call.
The past four years my dad has spent every one of his birthdays watching me play basketball. In 2015, it was in Brooklyn against Rider University. My sophomore year he was traveling to Maryland to watch me play at Loyola University. In 2017 he watched from home while I played Manhattan college and last year him and my mom drove the whole way to the middle of nowhere in Kentucky for a weekend tournament at Morehead State. This year, for the first time in a while, I don’t have a basketball game on his birthday and I won’t get to see him.
When I initially showed interest in playing overseas and the Sport Changes Life program, he wasn’t exactly thrilled about it. Everyone else that I talked to was encouraging and told me if I have the opportunity I should go for it. I can’t tell if my dad was eager for me to start my career or if he was just excited to finally have me back home. After all, he had the same feelings about me going to Brooklyn for college… even though he hates New York City, he still made plenty of trips to visit me and watch most of my games. He claims that he won’t be making a trip to Ireland this year… but we will see about that! If you know my dad, you know that a perfect vacation for him would be laying on the couch watching TV for a week. He isn’t much of a traveler. Nevertheless, he was supportive (like he always is) and helped me find my way to Ireland. To be honest, I don’t think that either of us were ready for my basketball career to end. He still looks forward to watching my games every weekend with my mom and loves discussing all the details afterwards over the phone.
Over the past few years my dad has received plenty of phone calls from me. We talk or FaceTime almost every single day. Most of the time it is just chatting and catching up, but there have been multiple occasions when I call him in tears because I’m upset or raging because I’m angry about something. In these instances, I was usually looking for him to agree or empathize with me, but he never would. Instead, he would always tell me to stop feeling sorry for myself, to get over it, or to figure it out. While I always hate this answer, I know he is typically right.
I know that there are a lot of great dads out there in the world, but I am convinced that me and my brother, William, have the best one. A lot of people may not have grown up with a father in their life or may not have a pleasant relationship with theirs. I cannot imagine what that must be like and just feel so grateful that I can recognize how lucky I am to have the parents that I do. When I think about the person that I am and all the things I have accomplished up to this point in my life, I think that my mom and dad deserve all the credit. When I was younger, I used to hate how strict they were (and still do). I would always be so embarrassed when they wouldn’t allow me to do certain things, but now I understand why.
Dad – you always keep me grounded and set me straight when I need it. Even though I’m completely spoiled, you still taught me to be strong, independent, and kind. I can’t be with you today on your birthday, but I just wanted to remind you how much I value having you in my life and thank you for always being such an incredible and supportive part of it. Happy Birthday, I love you!