Dad, Padre, Father, Papà, Babbo. Whatever you call him, he is that unique figure in your life who holds a special place in your heart: a father. Father’s Day, means something different to each and every one of us, and we’ve asked our staff to share some of their favorite memories with you!
Reflections from our Team:
Lindsey: “Best (and worst) thing my father ever thought me: if something isn’t funny the first time it definitely will be by the tenth.”
Rae: “My Dad is my Best friend!”
Antonio: “Mi Papá ha sido un gran maestra de la vida.”
Justin: “Mio padre è il mio idolo e voglio ancora diventare come lui.”
J’han: “He always had a story to make you laugh.”
Tammy: My Dad can make me laugh as much now as when I was little.”
Ron: “My Dad was the kindest person that I’ve ever met and I still want to grow up to be like him!”
Patrick: “My Dad eats like a horse, sings like a bird and drinks like a fish.”
Deyon: “ I am so happy to be both a Father and a Grandfather!”
Chris: “My Dad never turned down a chance to go outside to play”
Zach: “Without my Dad, I wouldn’t be as ready to take on the world”
Meg: “My Dad will do anything he can for his family”
Max: “My Dad would beat Chuck Norris up”
Julia: “My Dad is the life of any party”
Federico: “Mio padre sarà sempre il mio punto di rifermento”
Liam: “As a father myself..I hope to one day be as kind, strong and courageous as my father..I know no one is perfect, but in my eyes he sure was pretty damn close”
Rene: ”Es un buen tipo mi viejo”
Larry: “This is my first Father’s Day as a father and I am really looking forward to it!”
Scott: “My Dad taught me how to smoke [pork butt!]”
Lauren: “My Dad has always taught me the value in working hard and eating well.”
Suzy: “Growing up in Iowa, I thought the Presidential candidates went to everyone’s house for dinner. Lorne’s passion for politics was addictive and is what brought me to DC. He was a great dad – I miss him every day.”
Bill: “Everyone who ever encountered my dad, no matter how briefly, couldn’t help but know that he was an exceptional person. Kind, friendly, caring and always engaging, he quietly set a very high bar for his four sons. One day, stopping by his summer mountain vacation home I found myself chatting for the first time with the couple who had cleaned his house for the past decade and at the end of our conversation the husband remarked to me, ‘you are exactly like your dad.’ No one has ever paid me higher compliment.”
Father’s Day reflections. When you’re young, a dad can do no wrong. Somewhere along the way to adulthood, many people outgrow this feeling, finally realizing that all of the rules and decisions their parents make are just that—decisions, rules, and beliefs—rather than absolute truths. Luckily for me, my dad, Lorne, was a genuinely awesome person, and I carried that feeling of awe and admiration for him through my teens, into my 20’s and even when I hit 30. He was always my biggest supporter. He taught me from an early age that I could (and should) do anything. Unfortunately, my father passed away 17 years ago. His life ended all too soon, but it was a life lived large and one that I am very thankful to have been a part of.
While I have many reasons to be thankful for my father, one of his greatest gifts was to treat me and my siblings with respect and teach us to hold our own among in a group of adults or peers. Unlike many of my friends and relatives, we definitely were not raised to be seen and not heard (which, to be honest, for a family with as many children as ours was quite a feat). This lesson was especially important because the year I was born, my father became the youngest representative ever elected to the Iowa State Legislature – and so began our life in the spotlight. My father carried his philosophy of raising children beyond his personal life and into his professional life. Even as young children, we weren’t simply trotted out or put on display for special occasions—every day was a special occasion and the whole family was part of the team.
We were involved in his political career. From Representative to State Auditor to Insurance Commissioner, we knew from a young age that what we did and how we behaved reflected not just on us but on our family. While that added a certain responsibility, it was matched with the opportunity to travel around the state with Dad and to join him at dinners and receptions. Note to others: While it may seem like a great idea to sit through a two hour dinner eating nothing but black olives off of your fingers, at a certain point it will make you a very sick girl.
Now, Father’s Day is a day to share with my husband and kids.
I was nervous back in early 1985 when Bill and I visited my father and his wife in New Hampshire, and Lorne invited Bill into the dreaded library. I didn’t have time to warn Bill that all conversations with my family should take place in the kitchen. No good conversations had ever happened in the library – until the day my father took it upon himself to let Bill know that he approved of him as a future son-in-law. Not that Bill was asking.
Raising kids is no easy task and definitely can take its toll, but having twins as baby number three (and surprise baby number four) really put us to the test. I think we both had different impressions of what life would be like with a five year old, a three year old and two new babies: I stocked up on bathrobes and face cream, and Bill started saving stale bread to make croutons and had a new set of golf clubs delivered. Fortunately, both of us were way off the mark. Having twins gave us the freedom and ability to relax, knowing that we couldn’t keep everyone happy at once. And once we relaxed all of the kids were happier. It was a win-win.
Watching Bill’s relationship with our kids has been a great joy. When the kids were little we would wake early every morning to have a quick family breakfast together before school–a guarantee that we would have at least one family meal every day given the hectic nature of our lives. Dinnertime was an opportunity to catch up on everyone’s day, and because of that, it could and often did stretch for hours. It was never a wise move for the kids to save homework because somehow, “I ran out of time because family dinner ran too long” wasn’t considered a valid excuse by any of their teachers.
One of the legacies that Bill’s dad passed on to him was a love for the Boston Red Sox and the Miami Dolphins. Two teams that struggle for victory—but when they win there is much celebration at the Menards. As a Florida native, Dolphins games were a rite of passage for Bill, and he made a point of passing along the tradition. With a season pass that allowed three tickets a game, he would alternate and take two of the kids to the home games at least once a year. A weekend without Mom’s watchful eye would include such forbidden treats as tailgating with Popeye’s fried chicken and throwing a football in the parking lot–with moving cars. It’s a miracle they all survived.
It strikes me as I write this how many memories of my family, both the one I was born into and the one I have raised, have centered around the kitchen, the dining room table, and food in general. What we were eating—from Moms’ pot roast to pizza delivery—never mattered as much as where we were eating it, always seated around the dinner table surrounded by family. For me, that is the tradition that I thank my Father for instilling in me and I thank my husband for indulging me in recreating: making time to spend together, to reflect on the day, to learn about each other’s lives, and to create shared experiences at the table. This is the aspect of our lives that we most want to bring to Via Umbria. Beyond the actual food we serve, beyond the wine we drink, beyond the beautiful ceramics used to serve these things, Via Umbria is a place where people can come together to create their own experiences of family. The greatest compliment we have ever received came one night after dinner in the Laboratorio demonstration kitchen, when a new customer told me, “This place is so comfortable, it feels like being home.” My favorite place to be has always been in the kitchen at the table, and I want to share that place with all of you.
This Father’s day, I will be celebrating with my husband of 30 years, father to our four children, my business partner, and the love of my life, and I am sending a big thank you to my own father Lorne for being such a big part of our life and for setting a high bar for how to be a great dad.
My father passed away earlier this year. He was 95 years old. And he was a lifelong Red Sox fan.
Actually, as I learned later in life, he adopted the Sox as his team when his original favorites, the Boston Braves moved out of town. But that all happened well before I was born and before I was introduced to the ritual of sitting in front of the television on weekends, before the advent of regional sports channels, watching the game of the week that sometimes featured the Sox. I was a Braves fan at the time, the Atlanta Braves which happened to be the closest thing to a home team a boy growing up in Florida could have, but my dad didn’t seem to care. He loved his Sox but he loved or at least watched every team, every game.
I developed my love for the Sox after I moved away from home after college. When I would return home to visit my parents, particularly during long summer visits to my parents’ second home in the mountains of North Carolina, I would spend evenings in front of the set with my dad watching the Sox break the hearts of New Englanders and more distant members of Red Sox Nation on the newly established regional sports networks that one could watch with the invention of satellite TV.
And I became a full fledged member of the Nation in 1986 when my dad and I sat in front of the TV nightly and, when the playoff scheduled called for it, during the afternoon, as the Sox raised the hopes of all of New England that their terrible curse, a World Series drought might just end that October. And I shared my dad’s crushing disappointment when a clinching Game 6 grounder rolled through the legs of Bill Buckner, denying the Sox that long awaited return to glory.
All the while my dad, the gentlest, kindest, nicest man that ever walked the face of this planet taught me another important lesson. You must cheer against (and possibly even hate) the Yankees. So after the collapse it was particularly galling to live through years where greatness seemed to be so close but to be constantly thwarted by fate and by the Bronx Bombers.
During the playoffs of 2003 I was in Washington and didn’t have the opportunity to watch the playoffs with my dad, but he was always in my thoughts. This team, I thought, could finally end the curse and bring some happiness to a man who at 86 years of age had actually lived through the Sox’ previous World Series victory in 1918 but who had no real memories of anything but epic hope dashed by epic disappointment. And so it was that year in the ALCS when Tim Wakefield, a pitcher my dad could never work up a modicum of trust for, gave up the series losing home run in extra innings. I was so crushed I couldn’t bear to call my dad. I recall being stopped at a stoplight the following afternoon and sobbing in my car. Not for me, although by that time I bled red as much as my dad, but for him. I was sure we had witnessed the last chance for him to see a World Series champion Red Sox team in his lifetime.
I was, of course, wrong. The following season the Sox exacted revenge on their bitter rivals, coming from behind a 0-3 deficit to win four games and the American League pennant from the team now dubbed “the Evil Empire.” And I watched my first Red Sox World Series championship not on my father’s couch, but in in Italy’s lake district on a laptop computer, eating white truffle on bread with butter in a four poster bed under a drizzling sky in a hotel room with a retractable roof.
Three years later the scene was repeated, as I watched again from Italy on that same laptop as the Sox again swept their National League opponent to win their second world title of the decade. The second championship was different from the first for my dad. My mother had passed away during the previous season.
After my mom died, the Red Sox became a sort of therapy for my dad, something me and my brothers could share with him that was guaranteed to make him happy and to focus on life after mom. We occasionally took him to games in Tampa, just across the state from his home on Florida’s east coast, where tickets were easy, the stadium was air conditioned and Sox were almost guaranteed a win against the then woeful Devil Rays. Road trips to Sox games and sitting in living room watching NESN broadcasts proved to be a bonding experience for my children and my dad. The Sox were a true therapy.
One night five or six years ago my brother and I were watching a game after dinner with my dad when, from his enormous padded La-Z-Boy recliner my brother noticed him muttering, “there’s that guy.” No one thought anything of it until a day or two later we noticed the same muttering. “That guy.” After a couple weeks of hearing my father, who was succumbing to Parkinsons and was losing his ability to speak mutter “that guy,” my brother finally asked, “what is that guy?”
“That guy,” according to my dad was a bushy blond haired guy who happened to sit behind home plate at every Sox home game, just in the camera’s line of sight when a right handed batter was at the plate. Not taking much notice of it initially we, too, started to notice that “that guy” was indeed at every home game and the “that guy” game was born. Every night, whether I was watching with my dad or not I would check to see if “that guy” was there. He always was. Without fail. And later, as my dad’s mind started to fail we would nightly jump off the couch, running to the TV to point him out, shouting “there’s ‘that guy!’”
A couple of years ago Suzy and I took our twin boys, die hard Red Sox fans who had been taught well by their grandfather, to Boston and scored tickets in the section right behind home plate for a Sox game. We had been going to Boston fairly regularly to watch a game or two each season, but generally had sat in the cheap seats. This time, however, we were on a mission. We were going to meet “that guy” and get a picture of the twins and him for my dad.
The tension in Fenway that day was thick, at least for me. Would “that guy” skip his first game in who knows how long? Even if he was there would we be able to see him or reach him? Would he let us take a picture with him? My heart was pounding like it was the seventh game of the World Series.
Some time before that day, while watching a Sox game on NESN with my dad, my laptop on the couch next to me, I had gotten the idea that my dad, my brother and I couldn’t be the only three people that had ever noticed “that guy.” So I did what anyone in my position would do. I Googled him. “What is the name of that guy who sits behind home plate at every NESN Red Sox home game.” Google returned hundreds of pages of results. His identity had been outed. That guy was a certain Dennis Drinkwater, CEO of Giant Glass, a sponsor of the Red Sox. Word was that he took his celebrity with a grain of salt and was a gentleman to everyone who approached him.
That certainly was the case that autumn day when the twins and I finally got up the courage to approach him between innings. I sent the boys down to the front row and readied my camera. They introduced themselves to him saying that their 92 year old grandfather was a lifelong Red Sox fan (not exactly true given his original Boston Braves folly) and that he watched the games on NESN from Florida every day, explaining that he had discovered Mr. Drinkwater by watching the games and would he mind taking a picture with them so they could bring it back as a surprise present. Mr. Drinkwater more than obliged, turning toward me for a photo, raising the twins’ hand high in the sky and shouting an ode to the Sox. That guy was quite a guy.
And it made quite an impression on dad, even in his declining state. While he now had difficulty stringing together more than a few words, his eyes and his smile when he saw the photo of the boys with “that guy” told it all. He was touched every bit as much as if the Sox had hit a walk off series clinching home run in the bottom of the ninth. Such things are possible in Red Sox Nation.
Last night I woke up at 2:30 in the morning in a hotel in the little town of Gioia del Colle in southern Italy’s Puglia region to watch the possible series clinching Red Sox win. The Sox were up 3-0 when I tuned in, then 4-0, then 6-0. The Cards got one back to make it 6-1 and threatened to cut the lead to 1 run before they were snuffed out in the seventh inning. From there they went down meekly and Boston celebrated its first World Series championship clinched at Fenway Park since 1918. I had tuned in just case they won, as a good Sox fan not taking a victory for granted, to see one thing. I wanted to watch Boston celebrate at home and to see if “that guy” was there.
“That guy” was there, cheering and reveling in the victory of his team. The other guy was not there this time, either at Fenway or at home in Florida. But he was there alright, and I’m pretty sure he was saying to himself as he watched down on his team win, “there’s that guy.”
In the not too distant future, when I am old and gray and my children have moved on with their lives, I hope that they will occasionally come visit and maybe even watch a Red Sox game with me. I’m pretty sure that by then “that guy” will no longer grace Fenway and NESN with his presence. But I am pretty sure that my dad will be watching along with us and saying to himself, “there are those guys.”