Today Daddy would have turned 65 and anyone who had ever met him knows just how special he was. He was a one of a kind person, and definitely my hero! Sure everyone says that his (gender neutral) dad is his hero, but as soon as you read a bit of my tribute to him tonight (I’ll write more about him on May 16 — his anniversary date) you’ll see why he’s my hero.
Daddy (or Anthony “Tony” Frank Smigin, Jr.) was born May 6, 1947. Much of the rest of his childhood seems a bit vague and, as far as this blog entry is concerned, unimportant. Daddy played in his school bands and served at Masses for priests (and maybe archbishops). He also played basketball and worked with his hands A LOT. If he didn’t know something, he taught himself about it and what he did know, he taught to others. These were all crucial to forming me as an individual. I never played in a marching band, but I did play a few instruments in my life (and as you know still want to play more). The instruments I played were trumpet, keyboard (66 key approximately), a synthesizer, a miniature organ, and piano. I always wanted to serve at Mass, but never could because girls are not allowed to serve at Mass (well, they are now in my archdiocese, but traditionally they aren’t allowed to do so); instead Daddy taught me how important it is to remember to always attend (not just physically, but spiritually) Mass weekly and celebrate Confession (Penance, Reconciliation, etc.) regularly. Also along those lines, Daddy said to always put God first, others second, and myself last and things would usually work out for the best. Daddy played basketball and it was with him I learned how to play and who to root for no matter what! 😉 Daddy always was busy working on something with his hands; be it a Pinewood Derby car for the Boy Scout troop he helped with or a gazebo to house a 2-foot deep wading pool. He even could be found repairing the roof from a storm or gardening in the backyard. He didn’t know the first thing about Chrysler cars, but he learned a lot (not that well mind you) and eventually taught Steven and me how to drive my first car (“Derrick” the 1985 1/2 Plymouth Turismo Duster). He knew how to calculate resistance in a circuit and eventually taught students at DeVry University to do likewise (and more). Also he offered to teach me how to sew on a sewing machine (to make me a dress to be precise) if I could and would lose at least 2 dress sizes; unfortunately he never got to because of his untimely death, but I’m sure I could do so now if I just take my time.
Now onto why I said he’s my hero. Daddy suffered from health conditions that most people would never want to face or grow tired and just give up, but Daddy didn’t. First when I was about 5 or 6 years old, Daddy suffered from some kidney disorder that left him unable to digest anything with seeds (talk about trouble). Then by the time I was 21 years old, Daddy was diagnosed with cancer…correctal cancer precisely. He underwent surgery and they thought they got it all! By the time I was 25, Daddy was diagnosed again with cancer. It had returned and this time spread throughout his body. They felt they could treat it if he was given a large dose of chemo and a very strong aid, but also recommended he go to a clinic that specializes in advanced cancer treatments. He went Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and I barely saw him at all then, but he pressed onward. He continued fighting even up to being sent to a hospice care facility near the end of his battle.
Daddy, you are my hero and I will always look up to you and love you even if I can no longer see you or hug you! We all miss you and love you!
And to the rest of you, I hope God will help you to realize how little time we have with others. Spend that time with them as often as you can because you never know when it will be their last.