by Miriam Longobardi
Every Father’s Day, I’d always select the “What is a father?” card. Inside, I’d find a list of fatherly attributes–patient, loving, dependable–all of which applied to my dad. He taught me qualities and family values that, as a single mother to daughters ages sixteen and fourteen, I strive daily to demonstrate.
My father was very involved in my girls’ lives from the moment they were born until he passed away last October. He and my mother went to all their games, dance recitals, concerts, plays and graduations. Ever since my oldest was three months old, my parents kindly helped me raise the girls by driving an hour to my home each morning, then caring for and staying with them until I returned home from work. I cannot imagine our lives under any other circumstances, and I am forever grateful that my daughters had that experience and relationship with their grandparents.
My dad was the embodiment of fatherhood and, as we approach our first Father’s Day without him, we treasure the many happy years we were blessed with him. I continue to hear his voice of reason in my head. And, despite our loss, we feel his loving presence constantly as we remember things that would have made him laugh.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking to a few Armonk dads about their Father’s Day memories and traditions. Stewart Kovensky said that the most important thing on Father’s Day is being together, wherever that is. A favorite memory is when he and a friend, their sons and dogs went rock-climbing upstate. This trip was coordinated by Armonk resident Bobby Ferrari, whose company High Exposure Adventures organizes such rock-climbing tours. Although most years are more relaxed, he recalls that as a Father’s Day he will never forget.
John Sinon, Director of the CYO Program at Saint Patrick’s Church in Armonk, attributes his dedication to volunteering to his mother, whom he describes as his role model. “Seeing my mother volunteer regularly inspired me. The more [that] kids see their parents volunteer, the more likely they are to grow up and volunteer themselves,” he said. Sinon continues his mother’s tradition of giving back to the community by teaching the value of volunteering and service to his own three children and to the over two hundred twenty children that participate in the CYO basketball program annually. “CYO is not just basketball.
Teaching kids the importance of giving back helps them realize how fortunate they are,” he said. CYO kids participate in many fundraisers throughout the year, and there is a strong bond among their families. Sinon loves greeting families around town; families he never would have gotten to know well were it not for CYO. Family is important to Sinon, and his Father’s Day typically includes going to his brother-in-law’s for a family barbeque which is fun, relaxing and a great summer kick-off.
For the past nine years, John Walsh has coached a variety of sports, and is a positive role model for many children in Armonk. His coaching philosophy encourages kids to try a variety of sports and enjoy themselves. “These days there seems to be a lot of pressure for kids to pick a single sport around age ten and completely commit to it,” he said. “Some sports run twelve months leaving almost no opportunity to play another. My feeling is, let’s have fun and come back next year.” His wife Barb said it is John’s down-to-earth attitude that makes him approachable to kids. He feels it is important to give all kids equal playing time instead of focusing on playing stronger players solely for the purpose of winning. Around town, kids come up to him and call out “Hey, Coach!” giving him a warm feeling with which no winning score can compare.
John and Barb feel that family time together is what Father’s Day is all about. Their children, Jake, fourteen and Maggie, thirteen, look forward to making them breakfast in bed. The only change to this tradition over the years has been the sophistication of the food. Bagels and cream cheese have been replaced with dishes like eggs with bacon or fruit-filled pancakes. Just relaxing and enjoying one another’s company is what is most valued. Barb summed it up best saying, “Father’s Day is about being with dad and making him feel special and loved.”
Miriam Longobardi is a freelance writer, fourth grade teacher and single mother of two daughters living in Westchester. A breast cancer survivor, she volunteers for the American Cancer Society, has completed four marathons and travels the world. Follow her on Twitter@writerMimiLong.