My Dad was -- and remains -- my hero, even though he was oh, so human. He was far from perfect. He could be argumentative, stubborn, opinionated, and occasionally prejudiced. He probably drank more than he should have (although in almost 47 years, I saw him "drunk" only once--at my oldest brother's wedding rehearsal dinner--and his personal habits surely didn't shorten his life significantly). He could be mean, though rarely (if ever) was he mean to me.
But he came to the US from Ireland in 1922 at the age of eleven (that's his passport picture on the right), and worked for the next 74 years. He worked two, sometimes three jobs at a time. He loved my mother, to whom he was married 56 years when she died in 1998. And he gave his children everything he didn't have when he was growing up--including a father.
He was the hardest working, most self-sacrificing man I've ever known. He died June 28, 2001, just a few weeks short of his 90th birthday. I miss you, Dad. And I love you still.