An Open Letter to Papa

December 23, 2008


Today I really miss you.

I think it’s because I’m a father now and I’d give anything to for you to meet Talia. Although this time of year is always difficult without you, missing you hasn’t gotten easier.  There is no easing of that pain, only perhaps a greater understanding of the man you were and why you did the things you did. As I get older I can see what a truly great man you were.

This Thanksgiving I showed everyone the letter you’d written to me after I received the Coach’s Award in High School. As an 18 year old I appreciated the letter for sure, but not nearly as much as now at 33. A few months ago when I found the letter in Mom and Dad’s basement I felt like I’d been hit in my chest with a sledge hammer. It shook me to my core. So I gingerly unfolded it, framed it and put it at my bedside. Now I read it often, and I hear you. You wrote letters to others in the family. You made everyone feel special. Thank you. You’ll never know the magnitude of those gestures.

When confronted with the grief of losing you, I find myself feeling it even deeper as more and more blessings are bestowed upon our family.  I wish you were here to enjoy these moments.  There’s certainly a part of me that feels you are participating in my life every day.  There’s also that other part of me that feels you’re gone.  I suppose writing this letter addresses the latter sentiment, in a hope to connect myself to you as much as possible.

I recall Christmas’s past. I can close my eyes and smell you, feel your cheek on mine when you’d hug me.  I can hear you saying Merry Christmas to all of us.  I can hear you offering a toast to family – always making it clear that you were the “richest man in the world” because of all of the love surrounding you. We all love you so much.

Today I really miss you.

I wish you were able to sit in a chair and have Sophia, Julia and Talia crawl on your lap. I bet your face would get red, and you’d laugh your laugh. I can still hear it. I wish you were able to offer another family toast. I tried this Thanksgiving. I hope I made you proud. I think I did.

Mark and I used to sit with you and talk about what your life was like growing up with your siblings in Brooklyn. If you were still here we’d talk to you about our daughters, our lovely wives, our homes, and the town we both live in. We’d tell you how you taught us the importance of family. We’d tell you that we’ve grown closer as adults. We know you worried about that when we fought as children. You taught us how to be men.

Mom misses you. I can tell that this time of year is the worst for her. She misses your kind words. She misses your unconditional love and your ability to convey that you loved her for being her. You’ll never know how much she loves you.

I feel better now. I know you’re here. Thanks for listening Papa.

Merry Christmas buddy.


Outstanding Day

March 9, 2008

Today was a great day. i competed in a 4 mile New York Colon Cancer Challenge in honor of my grandfather Guy W. La Rosa (Papa). If he were alive, he would have celebrated a birthday today which helped to make the day even more special.

Things started out on a pretty funny note. Laura and I woke up at 6 am so we could leave the house by 7 am, and get to central park by 8 am, in order to have time to register, get situation etc…I popped out of bed feeling excited about being able to make this little dream of mine come true (this wasn’t a marathon, but still, what a great step in the right direction)! So, I get up, go downstairs to make coffee, and notice that the clocks are all sorts of messed up. I was prepared to the night before and manually changed the clock on my blackberry forward an hour. Little did I know that my blackberry would update on it’s own (via satellite), so now we were a full hour early. A silly start on a great day. Laura and I laughed at ourselves, and headed down to central park.

I had my zanox winter hat to keep my head warm, and my custom New York Road Runners shirt (it said “In Loving Memory …
Papa, I miss you)….

I blew through the 4 miles with a smile from ear to ear as I competed. I was shocked. I had been training indoors, and thought that running in the park would be so much harder. I think the combination of adrenaline, and the awesome positive energy of everyone in attendance helped me out.

I’m gonna go take a nap now.

New York Colon Cancer Challenge

March 7, 2008

This Sunday I’ll be competing in the New York Road Runners New York Colon Cancer Challenge. This is a first for me (although I did run in the corporate challenge about 200 years ago), I’ve never really been one to do the “organized race thing”….I think that’s going to change. The reason why I’m running is to help raise money for a Scholarship that I started (as a gift to my mother) a few years ago. The Scholarship is awarded every Spring at my Alma Mater (Mahopac High School). We try to give the award to students that are in good academic standing, and are planning to study music in college. It’s a really cool thing because I get to say a few words of remembarance about my grandfather. Keeping his legacy alive is very important to me and my family. Also, since his wife (my grandmother) passed last week, this year is especially important. I’ll be sure to share some photos next week.