Happy Birthday daddy. Today you would have been 80 years old. Although it's been 15 years since you've been gone, I feel you all around me. You are in me, and you live through me. I still miss you the way that I did when I was only 5 years old. Remember that day, when I came with you to get your hair cut in the barber shop? You were only 6 feet away from me, but you were innaccessible, and I couldn't just climb into the barber chair to kiss you, so I cried. Instead, I took your overcoat in my hands, and smelled it, because I couldn't bear having you be even 5 feet away from me, in the barber chair, inaccessible for even a moment.
I still miss you the way I did when Meg, Carol and I went to summer camp and I cried every night until you came to visit us on the weekends with mommy and baby George. I know that you were doing what you thought was the right thing....to have us spend the summers with other girls in the countryside rather than on the streets in Brooklyn. But then I didn't understand that. Now I do.
And all my life, you were my greatest inspiration, my greatest motivator, my idol. You inspired me to success. You were always there. Even when I didn't want you to be!
You taught me to love Italy because you did. You taught me to love Italian customs, because that's the way we lived. You taught me to love Napoletano humor (and insanity), you taught me to love la commedia del arte, you taught me to love Italian opera. You taught me to love Italian tradition. I would never be living in Italy if it wasn't for you.
Because living in Italy is as close to being with you, our family, and my past, as I can get. And perhaps, if you hadn't died, I would never have had the reason to search any further. But if I did, you would have been very proud that I found my new life here. Yes, you would have been proud.
Daddy, if it wasn't for you, I would never be the woman I am today. I would never love and appreciate the things that I love. And you are with me all the time, daddy.