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I hope you'll excuse this column.
Normally, I write for you, the people of Portage County. This column is for you, too, but really it's for my dad.
As Father's Day arrives, I pivot toward 27 and my Dad just turned 67, it's clear time waits for no one. My Dad is in great shape, far better than I am, but even so, he had a trip to the hospital this year, which only served as a further reminder to take advantage of the time we have and the chances I have to write a piece like this. In my columns, I've bared my heart to you about everything else. So, why not tell you a little bit about my dad?
As I hit my twenties, I realized I didn't know all that much about Dad's job. I knew he was an environmental lawyer, and I knew everyone he had worked for, but little about what that meant on a daily basis. For a moment, that concerned me, but now, I've realized that is his greatest gift. He never makes it about him -- it has always been about me. That's the kind of selfless man he is. It's a selflessness I aspire to -- and I don't know that I could ever achieve.
For a long time, until I started writing seven to ten articles a week, he would send me every Google Alert he got for one of my articles, along with a complimentary sentence or two.
I miss that and I miss him.
As life goes on, we move farther from the womb, figuratively and literally. When people ask me what I miss most about New York, it's never the skyscrapers or the late-night food. It's Dad. I miss coming home every summer. I miss sitting with him every night for dinner. Life changes, and I'm grateful beyond belief that God put me here in Portage County, but those 450 miles hurt sometimes. Interstate 80 isn't quite as easy a road as I imagined when I moved to Cleveland. I told myself then that I could drive home any weekend, but adulthood doesn't quite work that way. Life has a way of moving far quicker than I ever anticipated. One weekend folds into the next, and somehow, it's been months since I last saw the man who means the most to me.
Every now and then, I send Dad housing clippings from Edgewater and Garrettsville and other Northeast Ohio locales. I know Dad would love the waterfall in Garrettsville. I know Dad would love biking around Edgewater. I also know Dad will probably never move to Northeast Ohio, he has lived in New York for more than three decades, but I will never stop trying.
When I think of Dad, I think of a man who did everything he could to be my dad. Instead of telling me about his day at work, he simply strapped on his baseball glove and headed outside with me. He wasn't really a sports guy, and his back would hurt every time we played, but night after night, we hit the cul-de-sac.
Dad seemingly hit me with the Wiffle ball as many times as he hit the strike zone. Every once in a while, he threw a pitch right down the middle and I'd whiff. We'd laugh and joke that I wasn't used to those kind of pitches. No, I guess God didn't intend Dan Rosenblum to be a major league pitcher. God just intended him to be my Dad.
My Dad was barely a baseball fan, and when he did watch baseball, he was a Cubs fan -- until I came along. And then he became a Mets fan because that was my team. And he has sent me clippings about the Mets ever since. Sometimes, he knows things about the Mets before I do -- that's how committed he is.
I still call him every time I've done something stupid and need his help. And he always picks up. Like recently when I was driving along Interstate 90 from Chicago to Portage County and was running out of gas in Western Indiana. Guess who I called?
Any time misfortune hit me, I knew who to turn to. When Mom and I argued throughout my senior year of high school, it was Dad's shoulders I cried on. When my first serious girlfriend dumped me, it was Dad's shoulders I cried on -- right in the middle of Midway Airport.
And so, when the Zac Brown Band's beautiful song "My Old Man" came over my car radio, I teared up once more.
"He was a lion / We were our father's pride / But I was defiant / When he made me walk the line / He knew how to lift me up / And when to let me fall / Looking back, he always had a plan / My old man."
The memories came racing back -- the late nights he picked me up from the train station so I could party in the city yet never have to walk home upon returning to our little suburb, the conservative advice he gave me that annoyingly always seemed to be right.
Ever since, every time I've heard that song, it goes right to my heart. No song has ever meant more to me -- because no one has ever meant more to me than my dad.