Most sportswriters will tell you that their progression to their career choice started with them playing catch with their father in the front yard.
I cannot recall my father ever owning a baseball glove or attempting to teach me how to throw a tight spiral. Nope, the only sport he, my brother and I did together was good ole' living room wrestling.
I remember waking up on Saturday morning to my father watching CNN or better yet, Looney Tunes -- the man loved cartoons. Our living room used to have this finely combed green rug, where you could take your finger and draw a wresting circle.
Dad and I would wrestle for a little while until I decided to use the "I have to go to the bathroom" excuse and he would let me up. That's when I would go in for the pin.
My father came to this country from Palestine at the age of 19 to live with his uncle in Fitchburg. My dad knew very little English when he came to this country, but he learned the language on his own -- something he was very proud of.
Sports were never big in my family. My dad could care less about if the Red Sox won or who scored the game-winning goal. He was more concerned with making sure my sister, brother and I had everything we needed to be comfortable and safe.
As a little kid I remember bringing my dad dinner, with my mother and sister, at the noisy plastics factory he worked at. When I walked into the factory, my dad would often have a wide grin on his face, joking with one of his employees or showing off pictures of us kids and my mother.
The man worked tireless 16-hour shifts in a plastic factory, sometimes six-days-a-week. My father worked a lot, but he always found time for his family. Oftentimes, he and my mother worked out a system where he would go somewhere if she drove, while he slept.
The trips I remember the most with my father were our weekly trips to WalMart or Home Depot. Wherever it was we were going, it didn't matter as long as I was with him.
Every time we went somewhere there were two things you could be sure of; you would be getting some sort of snack and he would try to sell you for a mere $5 to the unsuspecting person at the register. No... I am not joking; my father would do anything for a reaction. I guess that explains where I get my wise-guy personality from.
I started playing football in middle school and my dad would come to practice and walk our little dog Bandit around the field. The moment I sat down in his old Dodge Dakota truck, he would promptly ask, "Did you win?" -- Every time I had to explain to him what practice was.
During the winter of my freshman year, I joined the Nashoba-Clinton wrestling team and for the first time I participated in a sport my father loved and, most importantly, understood. Sure, my dad missed his fair share of matches, but the prideful look he had when he was able to attend one, win or lose, is something I will forever cherish.
One of the more valuable lessons my father taught me as a child was that nothing in life is given, you must earn everything. Going into my freshman year of high school, I convinced my dad that I needed my own computer for school. Do you think he went out and bought me one with his money? The answer is no, he told me to start cashing in cans. During that summer, our road was the cleanest one in town with not an empty bottle or can to be found.
I remember saving up about $200, and my dad agreed to help me with the remaining balance, if I performed odd jobs around the house. He always told me that if you buy something with your own money, you will appreciate it more.
That little snippet of advice still plays in my mind today. In college, I chose not to go out and blow my money at the local bar. But I saw friends of mine calling home for "entertainment money," which rubbed me the wrong way due to the life lessons my father instilled in me about hard work and the value of a dollar.
Recently, my mother told me I was destined to be a reporter due to the outgoing personalities of her dad and my father. My father did not care what your social status or religion was. It did not matter, as long as you treated him with respect, he would talk to you like he had known you for years, even if you just met him.
My father passed away in 2006, while I was a sophomore at Clinton High School. I decided to quit the wrestling team and pick up more hours at my part-time job at JCPenney. My father's sudden death made me take the leap into adulthood a bit early; there were no late-night Friday parties for me, just a closing shift at the mall.
In my opinion, Father's Day is a commercially driven holiday, where businesses only care about their profit margins, not the happiness of your dad.
Show your dad each day that you appreciate everything he did for you growing up and now, because you never know what tomorrow might bring.