"I could stay awake just to hear you breathing…"
I died on Father's Day.
It was the day I was born.
Father's Day, 1952. A Sunday. Buffalo' Children's Hospital. My first breath, was my last breath,
I was born blue.
Blue in 1952 was not a good thing. My father, the original Don Barone, sat chain smoking unfiltered camels in a windowless waiting room.
Dad told me the story in a parking lot in Fresno, California. It was the first time I ever saw him cry. He told me the story of my death while holding a silver baby rattle in his hand.
My baby girl. Less than a month old, my mother and father had just flown across the country from Buffalo to Fresno, to hold their new grandchild.
My daughter. Their only granddaughter.
My father told me that when he held Ashley, and she opened her eyes and looked at him…
…he saw me.
Except for one thing, "…but you never opened your eyes that day."
Then dad reached out, and held my hand.
And dad told me how I died on the day I was born. He told me that the first time he saw me, "a priest was baptizing you, and then he gave you last rites."
Nothing, he said, not even World War II, prepared him for that sight, "I just wanted to hold you before you were gone." Don Barone was not supposed to be my name, dad told me, "You know, it was sort of an emergency and I couldn't think of anything else."
My mother was in another room, we had never met.
And then my father, standing on the first step of the stairway that led to our Fresno apartment turned to me and says exactly this, "but you know, you know…you lived."
I just looked at him. Not knowing what to say, not knowing if I had to say anything since I was actually alive and standing there.
Still holding Ashley's rattle he put his hand on my shoulder and said, "When you came home from the hospital a month later, every night I would go in your room and stand there listening to you sleep. I have never said this to you, but I still worry about you every day, and that every time I see you alive…it's my Father's Day."
And then he turned and walked up the stairs with my daughter's rattle in his hand.
I stood frozen on the bottom stair.
Every Father's Day I think of that conversation on those Fresno steps.
Happy Father's Day to the original Don Barone.
I'm still alive.
And I wish you were too.
"…watch you smile while you are sleeping
while you're far away and dreaming…"
This Father's Day, Ruby Jordon, Kelly & Kerri Jordon's baby girl, will be exactly three weeks old.
It will be KJ's first Father's Day, as a dad.
"I hope I'm fishing on Sunday, but I really want to be home with Ruby on Sunday, you know you don't get born everyday, and there is only one first Father's Day."
I shook my head yep, thinking though, maybe not Kelly, maybe not.
"db I cut the umbilical cord, I was Kerri's coach." Ruby was 5 pounds 6 ounces when she was born, "I was worried about her, she was tiny."
Ruby is doing fine now, has gained over a pound in the three weeks, I write that down as Kelly is showing me photo after photo of Ruby that he has on his iPhone.
"I just want to be the best dad I can be. My father was always there for me, always, and I want to be just like that for Ruby."
Kelly and I are in his Bass boat and just floating in the harbor waiting to see if Kelly will make the first cut to 50 Elite anglers who will continue fishing in the Dixie Dual.
KJ is standing up by the trolling motor, he hasn't stopped smiling since I first asked him about Ruby. "I can't wait to share the outdoors with her db, being outside with her, taking her to the beach for the first time, camping out, fishing, fishing…"
And I can see him drift away in his mind as he hands Ruby her first fishing pole, catches her first fish, watches daddy's first weigh in.
I asked KJ, "Dude, your first Father's Day, when you are holding her this weekend, what are you thinking, what are you wishing for her."
KJ walks from the trolling motor and comes over and sits in the driver's seat next to me, doesn't say anything for a few beats, then, "Bring it on…I wish she brings it on for whatever it is that she wants to do, bring it on Ruby, go for it."
KJ is a good friend, and I'm thinking as he says that, I never met your father my friend, but my guess is, that's what he was thinking on his for Father's Day with you, as he held you.
And then KJ told me this, "I wish Ruby happiness and fulfillment and that she gets to live her dreams like I have gotten to live my dreams."
Which I'm sure KJ's dad whispered in his ear on Kelly's first Father's Day.
"…I could spend my life in this sweet surrender
I could stay lost in this moment forever…"
There will be a couple first Father's Day in the family that is B.A.S.S, two close friends of mine, Mike and Becky Iaconelli with their newborn son, Vegas, and Billy and Norma McCaghren with their newborn son, Callen.
And given the chance, this is what I would whisper into the ears of the new FATHERS.
My Father's Day wish for them:
Treasure not only the firsts, but the seconds, thirds, and hundreds, because every day my friends, is a gift from the Universe.
Light Vegas and Callen's way in life so they never have to walk in your shadow.
Never stop saying you love them even when they are older, stronger and taller than you are…tenderness doesn't stop when they leave the crib.
Forgive their mistakes, and they will forgive yours.
A college fund is good, but investing as much time with them as possible is even better.
Be, what you tell them you want them, to be.
And finally, 20 or so years from now while you are standing there holding the rattle of their first child in your hands, put your hand on their shoulder and tell them that every time you look in their eyes…it's your first Father's Day all over again.
Because it is.
The original Don Barone, showed me that.
"Where every moment spent with you is a moment I treasure."
I Don't Want To Miss A Thing