June 11, 2014: Father’s Day

~by Susi Pittman

My Dad led quite a life in his youth. He was one of the first skiers at Cypress Gardens, where he and his white spitz dog, Snowball would perform skiing tricks. He was a gifted singer, having attended the Chicago School of Music, singing with the swing bands, He crooned love songs over the University of Florida radio in the 1940’s; joined the U.S. Navy in World War II to fight for America and where he became a golden gloves boxer; he played on the Amateur Golf circuit 1948-1951; played in the AAA baseball league for Baltimore Orioles as a “southpaw” pitcher until a car wreck crushed his left arm.

Dad was by all accounts a zealot for the Catholic faith. You either loved him or didn’t. There was never any in-between when it came to what the Church taught, and he would tell you so. He was opinionated, passionate, had a great sense of humor and at times it was like a darkness fell over him that he could not fight. But, that part is not what I remember the most about Dad.

He taught me so many things. My earliest memories of father-daughter sharing were going fishing with Dad and Grandpa Bill, my grandfather. It’s kind of funny to call your own grandfather by his first name…but that’s the way he wanted it. Our family was full of characters, the least not being my Uncle Charlie who married a wonderful woman, (a mail order bride) and was the family historian.

Then there were the nights in front of the house, with the telescope focused on the moon, where he told me about the stars and the heavens. One phrase always stuck in my mind as we looked at the moon, “You know Suzu, you can see God looking back at you if you try.” He was right. To this day, I can look up at the moon and see God watching the world.

From the age of 10 until my father passed away, we shared the game of golf. I loved being on the golf course for the beauty of nature, not so much for the competition. At my best, I played consistently in the 80’s…not good enough for real competition. In my daughter Seana would be the one my Dad would see a true golfer. 360 yard drives and a putter that was too hot to handle. I am so glad they had their time together…she made him so happy on the golf course.

Dad retired from his insurance business in Miami and took over his father’s orange groves in Polk County. It was there that he and Mom lived out their lives surrounded by the graceful oaks, lakes and lots of family, filling their days with much joy. I would ride with Dad through the groves in his truck as he inspected the trees. We would see bobcats, bunnies, snakes, raccoons, possums, and see the eagle soaring above the “fruited hills.” We talked about the world, family and God. It was in that truck ride each time, that he would say, “Nothing is impossible with God. Don’t let anyone stop you from reaching for the stars.”

I didn’t and I won’t Dad.

This Father’s Day, I think about my Dad in heaven. I know he sees to the vast end of the universe that so intrigued him and he shares a perfect love with my mother and all of his family wrapped in the beatific vision.

Dad, thank you for all your words of wisdom and for your love.

You were unique.

You were awesome.

You were my Dad.

I miss you!

Susi Pittman is founder of CatholicStewardsofCreation.com and Owner-President of Twin Oaks Publishing; she is author of Animals in Heaven? Catholics Want to Know!; an advocate for the Florida Catholic Conference; a member of the St. Joseph’s Catholic Council of Women in Jacksonville, Florida; an Associate of the Sisters of St. Joseph, St. Augustine;a member of the Florida Publishers Association, Independent Book Publishers Association, the National Association of Professional Women, the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States and the National Audubon society.

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