When I was about 13 or so, the year before I could Officially go bow-hunting with my dad, he took me up to hunting camp with him, to learn the ropes. I sat in the hunting blind with him, in the woods, no one around for what seemed to be miles. My instructions from Dad: “If you see a deer, quietly and slowly tap my hand, and just point.” We sat there for what seemed like forever, breathing quietly together and, suddenly, I saw gently coming around a nearby tree… A deer. With my father’s instructions firmly in my head, I leapt to my feet and pointed and shouted at the top of my voice “LOOK! A DEER! DAD!! A DEER!! GET IT! GET IT! THERE IT GOES!! GET IT!!”
When my dad managed to catch his breath, with tears streaming down his cheeks from laughing so hard, he got up from the ground and hugged me tight. “Okay. We’ll work on that later. Right now, though, there are no more deer around for a couple miles, so let’s head back to camp and see if your Grandpa has lunch ready.”
When I was in High School, almost ready to finish my junior year, my dad asked me “So. Any thoughts on college?” I looked at him, and hesitated. Here was my dad. A pipefitter for Ford Motor. He worked a hard, dirty job. A man’s job. He had started working at 16, to provide for his family when his dad died, and he hadn’t stopped. I took a deep breath and, prepared to be talked to about life choices and responsibility, said “I think I want to go to college for theatre.” He blinked, looked at me for a beat, and said “Do you think you can make a living at it?” I said “I really think I can.” He nodded, and said “Ok. Then your mother and I will help in any way we can.”
And that was that.
Last year, I got sick. I went into the hospital, into a coma. The week that happened, my mom and dad basically moved into the hospital room with me. No one knew if I would live. The whole hospital stay was almost 3 months long, I was unconscious for most of it.
Partway through, they told my Dad “You can go for a night, get a good night’s sleep somewhere and come back tomorrow. We’ll be here.” He said back to them “I leave when he does.”
And he did.
My dad, Frank Caselli, passed away yesterday. He was my friend, my hero, and my role model. I pray that I can be for my kids even a fraction of what he was for me. I will miss him more than I can say. I love you Dad.