July 7th, 2018. Today is the one year anniversary of your passing. I sit here on my computer, listening to Santana’s Suenos, just as I did when Kelly called me over to your bed side to check up on you. I remember checking your wrist for a pulse, then your ankles, then your chest for signs of breathing. No pulse, no breath. Just you, peacefully laying there. The trips to dialysis, the aches, the pains…all gone. The first word to come out of my mouth, “fuck”. Why that? Well, you decided to leave this earth right after dad left to go home and shower. Perhaps you did it to spare him the pain of seeing his father pass in front of him. Maybe you knew it would be hardest on him? I don’t know. I told Kelly to get Aunt Christina and it seemed everyone came running in. I made a few phone calls to my cousins and sisters and then went back to my computer to finish working on your funeral video…Suenos still playing in my headphones on loop. Life for all of us changed that day. We got together to watch the season opener of the Blackhawks game, your red chair sitting empty with only your jersey hanging over it. The Hawks won that game 10-1 over the Penguins. With each goal, I could hear you yell with excitement. In reality though, with each goal, my heart ached. I sat there looking at my dad, thinking how the hell is he handling this? The man he shared so many hockey memories with, is no longer here. He can’t high five you. He can’t call you to talk about the game. He can’t drive you home afterwards. Too many times throughout this year I told my dad that we should call you to come over, just as my dad has done the same. We stop right after we say it and kind of give an uneasy chuckle. The first time I took grandma to Minhs without you, I sat there and stared at your chair. Grandma looked at me and said “Baby I know, I know” I sat there, in a restaurant full of people, deaf to my surroundings. I looked up at grandma and starting crying. No more yelling at you for having too much liquids. No more yelling at you for trying to get some soup when you know I could get it for you. No more yelling at you for not using your cane. No more getting you your ice cream cone and then putting you on snapchat, while you saying “put that thing away”. After your passing, we all put on our big boy/big girl pants and lived our lives like you would have wanted. I remember as you laid there, I whispered in your ear “we’ll take care of grandma for you”. Well, that’s what we’ve done in our own ways. I wont speak for the rest of the family, I mean you can see from up there all the stuff they do for her. I pick her up and take her to lunch, then get suckered into dropping her off at the casinos. Each time I put on your cologne to see if she notices it. Nope. Of course my smell is different than yours so that’s probably why. Speaking of your cologne, one year later and it still smells new. When Im upset or depressed I go into the bedroom, open and smell it. It brings a smile to my face. I met a girl named Sonia about 6 months ago and you would have loved her. She’s a smartass and great with comebacks just like you were. I wish you could have met her, but most of all I wish you could be here to welcome the child she is carrying. Now this is where you would say “it’s not yours, you can’t do nothing with that little peepee”. Well I proved you wrong.
I miss you, I love you and not a day goes by that I don’t think about you.
So at the Blackhawks game the other day I got the meet Tony Esposito. It was for a charity event the Blackhawks were doing. I asked him to sign my arm and look of surprise on his face was awesome. I have Bobby Hull, Chris Chelios, and Jeremy Roenick all autographed and tattooed on my arm. Here’s the video.
This is not a sad video, rather funny actually.
Let’s chat shall we…
On June 1st, 1992 I remember going into my dads bedroom where he was layin down watching tv. I sat on the edge of the bed, wondering what he was watching. Turns out it was game 4 of the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals, which was the Chicago Blackhawks vs Pittsburgh Penguins. I remember asking question after question and he was happy to answer, even though the Hawks were about to get swept in the Finals. What I didn’t know at the time was just how much my dad enjoyed the Hawks.
It wasn’t until a few years later in 1994 when I was in 8th grade that I actually learned how much the Hawks meant. My dad surprised me with tickets to my first Hawks game. He said he wanted me to experience the sights and smells of the old Chicago Stadium. Now if you have ever been to Chicago Stadium, you know that it was old, small, smelly, and loud.
Looking back now, the best part wasn’t going to the game, but hearing the stories that my dad had of being a kid and running up the stairs to get a good seat for my grandpa and cousin Kenny. My dad would talk about my grandpa taking him to Mama Schiavone bar and how some of the players would go in after the games and would chat with my dad and grandpa while that drank. The 60’s obviously were a different time, since a young kid in a bar wouldn’t fly today. Now after hearing these stories about Mama Schiavone’s, I figured it was just a simple high five and that was it. Then, in 2013 at the Blackhawks convention, I had the opportunity to talk to Bobby Hull as he signed my tattoo. Of course my dad took advantage of the situation and asked Bobby if he remembered that bar. And wouldn’t you know it, Bobby remembered. Not only did he remember, but he remembered chatting with my dad and grandpa. Of course you could chalk it up to him just agreeing for the sake of agreement. But he started talking about the same stuff my dad told me about. So just as my dad had the memory of meeting Hull with my grandpa, I have the memory of meeting Hull with my dad.
As I’ve stated before in a prior post, there are certain things you do with your parents, grandparents, or any family member for that matter that will lead to traditions, and those that will be etched in your mind. So tonight, almost 4 months to the day that my grandpa passed, we sit here getting ready for game 1 of the 2017/2018 NHL season. My grandma, aunts, dad and mom are all here…and even though I look to my right and see an empty red chair, I know my grandpa is sitting there.