Good Bye Dad
Tomorrow, I bury my father.
Bob Soto was a good man, a great husband, and an outstanding father and grandfather. He was the youngest of seven siblings, six brothers and a sister, almost all of solid working class roots and dreams. Most of his brothers served in World War II, and my dad served courageously in the infantry in Korea, a war he never wanted to talk about. He was a proud carpenter, construction superintendent, and building contractor who worked over 50 hours a week for decades so that his kids would have a better life than he did. Moreover, he was married to my mom for over 55 years, providing me with a strong example of what family and fidelity means.
He was a good athlete, who despite not being tall ended up playing center on his school basketball team because he was tenacious and a good jumper. His athleticism didn’t rub off on me, rubbed off a little on my brother, and really rubbed off on my sister, who was and is a great athlete. As we grew, my dad was a baseball manager and basketball coach for me and my brother, and supported my sister during her track and field days while my mom supported us in scouting. He was like a lot of dads (and moms), supporting his kids and doing what he could so that they would have it better than him.
He loved the San Francisco Giants and the Forty Niners. Like his oldest son, he thought Joe Montana and Jerry Rice were the best ever.
Politically, he was a working class Democrat, who had to spend his last eight years enduring an administration that made a mockery of everything he and his brothers fought for. He was alive long enough to see Barack Obama win the White House, but not long enough to enjoy the sunlight that will return to this land from his presidency.
He survived a quadruple bypass ten years ago, and was relatively healthy until he was diagnosed with cancer over a month ago. Despite his 79 years, he survived the six hour operation with flying colors and was cancer free, likely to live another decade or so, and to enjoy his 80th birthday next week. Unfortunately, this hospital’s ICU never seemed to figure out in ten days how to heal him or prevent the heart attack he suffered two days after the surgery from which he would never recover.
Anytime we lose someone special in our lives, it leaves a new hole in our hearts. These never heal or go away, and we soldier on in our lives with empty spots in our souls, hopefully able to cope with these hurts and missing loved ones. That is the case with my dad and me, just as it is with you and your lost loved ones. We always assume we’ll have the time later to make that phone call, spend that day with them, or do something nice for them. Until we run out of time.
Simple truisms smack you in the face at times like these. Life is not fair; it never has been. The good do die too soon, while the wicked and despicable live too long and get away with their abuses. Way too many prayers go unanswered every day, perhaps because God isn’t listening or isn’t there to begin with. What really matters is the here and now, how you live your life, and how you treat your family and friends.
My dad’s passing will leave emptiness for me, my family, my brother and sister, and most of all for my mother, who lived with him for over 55 years and no doubt wanted another 20. I thank him for his life and his sacrifice for us, and will miss him every day for the rest of my life.