Father’s Day 2018 will be my first one as a dad. My son Anderson was born on July 7, 2017, and it has been the single greatest blessing I have received in my life. I now know the feeling my father must have felt when I was born, and when my sisters and my brother were born. I love waking up every day and seeing my son’s face. This will be a special Father’s Day indeed.
With happiness and jubilation, also comes time for remembrance and reflection. This will be the second Father’s Day I’ll spend without my dad, Armando Luis Alvarez. He passed away February 1, 2017 after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s, a devastating disease that affects more than 5.7 million Americans according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
It isn’t a time for sadness, but a time to appreciate everything my dad did for me during his life. This is very cliché, but he was the greatest father ever.
I was born when he was 55-years old, and although he wasn’t considered young like most of my friends’ dads, I never felt it. He would get home after a long day at work, and take me to the park to play baseball. Sometimes he didn’t even have time to change, except throw on a cap. Picture a man in slacks, a polo, or long-sleeve shirt, black Florsheim loafers and glasses throwing batting practice to a kid. Yup, that was my dad.
He would also put on Yankees baseball on the TV, and we would sit there every night watching Don Mattingly, Rickey Henderson and Dave Winfield wreak havoc on opposing American League pitchers. It’s a shame their pitching staff wasn’t very good, but I became a Yankees fan, just like dad.
When Yankees baseball wasn’t on, boxing was, and thanks to the countless hours we spent watching Tuesday Night Fights, Friday Night Fights, Top Rank Boxing, HBO Boxing, Showtime Boxing, and any boxing really, I became a boxing writer, a boxing producer and a boxing commentator. Never did I imagine it would lead to amazing adventures in my life, but it did.
He also taught me how to read, how to write, where every country was on the world map he had on his home office’s wall. He influenced me to care about world events, about politics, about being a well-versed person. Thanks to him my taste in music is very diverse. Sure, I love the popular music of the 80s, 90s, and today, but I also love Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, classical music and tango because of my dad.
He taught me how to drive. We would get into his 1990 Chevy Lumina minivan, and head to the parking lot of the Orange Bowl, former home of the Miami Dolphins, and home of the Miami Hurricanes at the time. We would switch seats, and off I went, learning to accelerate, brake, turn, and park. It was one of the many reasons I was sad to see that stadium be demolished.
More importantly, he taught me to be a good person. He taught me right from wrong. He taught me to be kind to others. He taught me to be a gentleman. He taught me how to be a dad.
If I can be a quarter of the father my dad was, it would be enough. He was amazing in every way, and I strive to be to Anderson what my dad was to me. He was a father, a teacher, a mentor and a best friend. I miss him dearly every moment of every day. This is why I want to help people learn about Alzheimer’s disease and raise awareness about the need for early diagnosis and research. I don’t want anyone to have to miss these moments.
It does make me sad he wasn’t able to meet Anderson, but I will be sure to tell my son all about his grandfather. My dad will live on through the love I will show Anderson, and the lessons I will teach him.
Dad, thank you for everything, for all the love you gave me, and for making the man I am today.
Happy Father’s Day!
Learn more about Alzheimer’s in the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center at alz.org/care. There you can also find more tips on supporting a family member with Alzheimer’s, join the ALZConnected online community, and find more information about your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter services and programs.
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