I originally wrote the following tribute in 1999, when my dad was honored by the Sons of Italy, Central Delco Lodge, for his years of service, including Past President.
My father has always been an inspiration to me. From humble beginnings in Germantown (Philadelphia) as the son of immigrant parents who had unlimited love, but limited resources, he held fast to his dream of becoming a physician. The obstacles confronting this dream were formidable, my father's intelligence and academic record notwithstanding: the reluctance to accept children of Italian immigrants into universities and medical schools, and the difficulties of balancing necessary jobs with study time, to name a few. Facing as a 19 year-old medical student one of his greatest challenges -- the untimely and tragic loss of his mother -- only strengthened my dad's resolve to stubbornly pursue his vision.
He ultimately achieved his goal -- along with a few others. He became a successful general and vascular surgeon, respected by his colleagues and admired by his patients. He married and brought five children into the world. He provided a beautiful, stable home where family and friends were always welcome. Over the years, he saved more than one life in the operating room and dedicated himself to the grueling and sometimes thankless life of a surgeon. Yet even these are not his greatest accomplishments.
As a little girl, I recall the emergency telephone calls in the middle of the night, the stress of unfair lawsuits and the daily pressures of life in the medical profession. But what I remember most is the way my dad conducted (and still conducts) his life. No matter the hour or the rigors of the day's cases, he always came through the front door whistling. He never failed to ask each of us about our daily adventures at school, and would listen to our responses with great interest. Tired or not, he was always willing to roll up his sleeves to play ball with my brothers or scoop up my sister and me in his arms (we were, after all, his "little ladies"). Determined that all of his children would have access to a higher education without the struggles he endured, my dad worked hard every day of his life to make that happen. It was his belief that progress meant eliminating as many obstacles as possible for the next generation, not making them feel guilty for the ones he faced years before. Most importantly, the gift of education was also one of equal opportunity: it was there for his girls as well as his boys. And he took genuine pride in the accomplishments of his children.
My dad's positive outlook on life, his dedication to his work and family, his openness to trying new things and his discipline in tackling every life challenge that comes along are continuous sources of inspiration, not only for me, but for everyone who knows him. These qualities stem from a heart that is founded upon real interest, concern and love for those around him. I will always be grateful for the gift of my father, and for the privilege of being his daughter.
May God bless you Dad on your birthday, Fathers Day, and always! xoxox