It Ain’t Easy Missing my Dad

Today is the 16th anniversary of my father, Salvatore Joseph De Tillio’s passing.  He was only 57 when he died from his third battle with cancer.  Stephen was only 2 months old; Nick was two.  I remember how surreal it was shopping for a Christmas tree with my two small children, knowing that my own father wouldn’t be with us.  His loss makes this time of year even harder for our family.  
Poppa with baby Nick.  Who wouldn’t feel secure in those big arms.

My dad loved telling the story of when I was born two weeks early at 3 lbs. 14 oz. I fit in the palm of his hand.  When the doctor wanted to get the priest to give me my last rites, my father refused.  He knew that I would live and he called me Adam Ant after the cartoon of an ant superhero who despite his size was strong and helped others.

My dad always believed in me and I think he was proud of my independence, even though it often meant my going against the grain and what he may not have approved of. Dad was the video taker and we have so many videos of him narrating; I just wish we had more of them with him in the videos.  Those memories are precious and it’s important for his grandchildren to know what a good, strong and kind person he was. So I try my best to tell his stories to my son.

Dad and me at my college graduation party in 1988.  Boy could my dad dance!
Dad was over 6′ tall and you can tell by the size of his hand that he was a big dude.  I admit he intimidated many a young man who wanted to take any of his three girls out on a date, but he was extremely kind and honorable to others (unless they tried to hurt anyone in his family then watch out!) When people stopped by the house to discuss their religion, Dad would let them in for a cup of coffee and let them talk.  He was a carpenter and would often barter for work with someone who couldn’t afford to pay with money.  If my dad shook on a deal, he meant it and would never go back on his word.  That’s an amazing trait, and my dad was always surprised when others went back on their promises. 
Dad with his grandson, Alex, I think, as he is a twin!
Dad loved his grandchildren, my mom, and his kids.  He had a 1967 Mustang convertible and the kids got a kick out of going for rides and visiting Poppa at his car shows.  The older grandchildren have such fond memories of those times.  That’s what I regret the most.  My children don’t remember their grandfather, although I always saw my father in Nick’s face and Stephen has more of his build.  They would have loved him so much.  I miss having my dad come over for lunch with whatever new dog he adopted.  I miss hearing his hunting stories with my crazy cousin Joe.  I miss his laughter and his singing.  As a kid, he woke us up in the morning with 50’s music blaring through the house speakers as he sang along.  
Before my dad passed away, I told him I would see him in my dreams and I have so many times.  I know he is always with me.  And I certainly know that he welcomed his grandson, Nick, when he passed.  
Sadly, my cousin, Palma, lost her beautiful dad today from cancer.  I believe my dad was waiting for him and I know he’ll look over all of us until our family is together again.
Love you, Dad

4 thoughts on “It Ain’t Easy Missing my Dad

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