As a boy, I clung to my Dad’s unyielding shadow, the stories he’d tell me. The Roxborough dump yard. The North Philly intersection where he hung out. The ragged green jacket from Vietnam. My Pop was a hard-nosed Italian who taught me work before play, restraint before revelry, and desire before doubt. “Come out of the gate strong”, he’d say. “You’ll never be the smartest person in the room, but you can always work the hardest.” Eight years after he died, I still try to rip through that gate and grind as hard as he would. Any resulting success humbly veils the pain of an insecure boy still aching for the confirmation of his father.
Photo courtesy of author.