It’s been thirty-three years since I said goodbye to my dad for the last time. Wow, that’s hard to believe – almost a quarter of a century and just under one-half of my life!
If you know me, I’m a bit obsessed with Owl City (Adam Young), and I would be remiss not to mention some lyrics from one of his songs, Not All Heros Wear Capes, on this occasion…
He doesn’t fight crime or wear a cape
He doesn’t read minds or levitate
But every time my world needs saving
He’s my Superman
Some folks don’t believe in heroes
‘Cause they haven’t met my dad
My dad’s a hero to me.
Wow, twenty-four years, how much has happened since my father stepped into eternity!
I still worked as a Sr. Show Producer for Walt Disney World for Corporate Meetings. I was thirty-three years old, with my future still before me. Does anyone really grow up by thirty-three years old? Since then, I’ve owned a few companies: Blue Moon Interactive, a web and interactive company with two friends, Mark and Andy; a graphic design and animation company, Industrial Artistry, with Marc and Brent; and I’ve worked for a financial banking company; Clear Channel (iHeart Media), the largest radio station owner in the US; and one of the major Christian radio organizations in the US, Z Ministries, Inc.
Here I am, just three and a half months before I turn 62. Holy crap, when I was younger, I thought being this old was – well – really old. I’m unsure whether that’s true; I realize that life tends to blur the lines. I often tell people, “If I ever act my age, please shoot me.” I’m not sure if when I stop learning, I will die or if the fact that I am dead will stop me from learning. The truth of the matter is, this year, I’ll be six years older than my mom was when she stepped into eternity, and I’ll be less than ten years younger than my dad when he stepped into eternity. We really don’t know when our time on Earth will end.
Did we have disagreements? Absolutely. In fact, there were times when the ten-foot-tall, bullet-proof kid was really perplexed about how his (my) dad was smart enough to be still alive – after all; he didn’t understand anything! When I was a teen and knew everything, did I disrespect my dad? Not really. I just preferred to do my thing most of the time. In the end, though, I’m really glad that the answer to the question, “But my friends are able to…” always had the response, “Your friends aren’t part of this family.” As time progressed, and I went off to college, I really began to realize how smart (intelligent) my dad was, and he truly became a mentor and friend to me. This continued until the last years of his life when he told the oncologist caring for my mom, “Please talk to Tom; we’re too overwhelmed to comprehend everything you’re saying. He will explain it to us later.” Wow, what a right of passage – from that dad who up to that point had moved from clueless to become a father, friend, biggest supporter for my ventures, a business advisor to me, and vice president of a college before retirement!
Here’s some of the stuff I’ve learned from my parents:
- Don’t give up. Find ways to make things work. My dad legally changed his name from “Beato” to “Beaton” after he served in the military during World War II because he was denied entry into college; Italians were considered fascists. He was the vice president of Alfred State College when he retired.
- Don’t give in. Stand up to your principles and morals. Just because your friends are doing things doesn’t mean you have to do them.
- Believe in yourself. I was a skinny, non-athletic kid, but my parents supported me through piano lessons, swimming lessons (I became a Red Cross and BSA certified lifeguard and was certified as an advanced first aid trainer for the Red Cross!), theatre acting, and technical staff, and lots of imaginative and random projects.
- Never give up on your dreams. After moving to Orlando (the furthest I’d been from home), I once received a postcard from my parents with the caption, “Don’t be afraid to shine in the darkness, for that’s when stars shine the brightest!”
- Be a friend to everyone. Pretty obvious!
There’s much more to be said about my early years and what my parents went through; it’s really a miracle that I’m alive and can write this tribute, but that will wait until later this month when I write about my mom.
My dad was not perfect, but my dad’s a hero to me!