They—like so many (all?) parents then and now—had to write their own parenting how-to guide. A half century later, I am grateful.
Today (August 11, 2019) marks the 50th anniversary of my father’s death. He succumbed, at age 56, to cancer. Born into a first generation Italian-American family, he grew up on the tough streets of the city. His father died young (in his forties as I remember). Dad quit school after the 8th grade so that he could work to help his large family survive. Early in life, he chose to drink and live hard, which in part led to an early demise.
Dad never experienced “higher education” or a “respectable job.” I have few physical reminders of our brief time together. Two ashtrays (courtesy of a 3 packs-a-day unfiltered Lucky Strike cigarette addiction). A set of drinking cups. An old beach shirt.
I cherish two non-material attributes that I saw him master: His ability to connect with people and his penchant to dream. As I think back at how he lived and the things he did (and did not do), he did not want to create and live within a small and safe world.
Unfortunately, he got sidetracked on the “how.” He had difficulty enlarging that worldview. He got stuck.
Parents don’t get an instruction manual. Sixty-six years ago, when Dad and Mom brought me into this world, there were no parenting classes (at least not in the various neighborhoods we moved in and out of). They both learned and did the best they could. They—like so many (all?) parents then and now—had to write their own parenting how-to guide.
They made mistakes. They made sacrifices. They made choices. They help me make me.
I am fortunate that Dad left me those two sustaining lessons. One on the importance of connecting with the people in front of you and the other on dreaming big.
There was a third tenet I learned from his life’s journey. Dream AND do the work the dreams require—or they may become chimeras. Sometimes you reach them. Sometimes you don’t. Forever dream. And keep moving forward.
A half century later, I am ever grateful.
Video Recommendation of the Week
Perhaps my father was talking to me when I wrote this song in 2010. I am forever grateful for connecting with John Longbottom. In this video, John joined me one morning as part of a class lesson and discussion. It was 2011. The location, Florida State College at Jacksonville (then Florida Community College at Jacksonville) on the Downtown Campus. Again, grateful.
You can purchase my latest book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print or e-book) on here. More information (including seven free podcast episodes to highlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
And check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). Another university recently (May 2019) adopted it for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I will be conducting (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.
My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network® (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).
You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
©2019. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®
This is a loving tribute to your dad. My father too “disputed my passage,” the main conflict in my memoir. But, like you, I received some of my most wonderful gifts through Dad. You don’t mention forgiveness, but I see that as a thread in your story.
You’re such a cool cat, Steve. That smooth guitar helps you tell your story with a different “voice”!
A push-pull relationship. Looking back, I grew because of what he did/who he was. There were challenges I wish had not occurred, but then I would not be who I am today. Push-pull. Pull-push. Thanks for your feedback.
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