Today was a fantastic day. Sarah got us tickets to the IronPigs and I got to go home to Allentown with my family. The ‘Pigs won but that wasn’t the big story for me.
It is a struggle when you start out, when you first leave the nest. When I graduated from NYU, my parents let me move back in and do my Master’s Degree while commuting from their home in Lansdale. As I stayed up late to complete papers, my dad would get home from midnight, perhaps not fully understanding my degree path or the job I held at Penn that year and asked me when I’d be working.
“Get a job!” he’d joke.
If there was one thing I learned about my dad growing up, it was that he always worked. Worked hard. But in his 60 to 80 hour work weeks, commuting from Allentown to Lansdale, he would attend every baseball game, orchestra concert, or cross country race he could. His eyes may have been struggling to stay open sometimes, but I could never tell.
I was always told that my dad worked two or, often, three jobs when I was born to make sure we had what we needed. He was a workhorse while my mom stared to stay home and raise my brother and I. The combination gave us socioeconomic upward mobility that took us from our start in Laible’s Trailer Park off of Seidersville Road to a nice house a few blocks away, with all of the opportunities I could have asked for. More important than the material, my father, and mother, focused heavily on education with little things like ensuring I could spell the vocabulary words in my early grades and driving us over an hour on Saturday mornings to the Franklin Institute on literally no sleep following an overnight shift.
Some of the opportunities he provided were a pain in the butt for him and were his own detriment! My paper route from 1999 to 2002 was often my father waking me up and walking with me and the dogs as we slept-walked around Salisbury Township delivering The Morning Call. Or all the time he spent in the car dropping me off or picking me up at sports and band practices. But all of the energy he poured into our family, counterbalanced perfectly by my mom, was all for good. I learned life lessons when we’d drive home at night from the middle school dances and, thanks to him, I knew the Ziggy Stardust album inside and out by the time I was six.
Knowing all of that, it is really humbling to be a dad for Zach. How can I partner with Sarah to give him the most potential to be a great human being? What can we do, right now, to show him how much we love him and how can we help him discover love, compassion, and care for others? Humbling is just one word but it is the only word both small and big enough to encapsulate my first Father’s Day.
As we sat behind home plate today and watched the IronPigs, I looked out into the beautiful sun, and a lot of thoughts rushed to my head. I had been a bat boy for the Allentown Ambassadors, Allentown’s first attempt in 30 years to bring professional baseball back. It was at the worn-down Bicentennial Park in 1997 that my dad, on a whim based on a radio commercial we heard while driving to McDonald’s, took me to see my first pro baseball game in the Lehigh Valley. It was my dad who got us season tickets in 1998 and who encouraged me how to ask about becoming a bat boy for the team.
So, instead of framing what we were seeing as something the present, young men that have dedicated their entire lives to what we were witnessing trying to reach the next level of their profession on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I very much saw the past and the future instead. I saw my dad and Bicentennial Park. I also saw my family at a baseball game, eating ice cream and hot dogs as Spring turns into Summer. If this is what Summer is like from now on, I am hoping it will be endless.