Monday, March 23, 2009

BufBloPoFo '09 - Day Ten - There Goes My Hero...


The people you look up to, not the sandwich.

Unless you look to a turkey sub for guidance and life lessons.

When I was a kid, my hero was Gilbert Perreault, flying down the ice, a blur of blue and gold, long hair blown back. He was awesome.

I think it is natural for a kid growing up to have these heroic images of people, be it an athlete, fireman, teacher, whatever.

Now that I am an adult, I can look back on my life (thus far) and see only one person that I would view as heroic. That would be my father.

Big Joe Kreuzer passed away six years ago of complications from Alzheimer's. He was just shy of his 61st birthday.He was diagnosed at 55 with what they called "early onset" Alzheimer's. Not a day goes by that I don't miss being able to ask him about life, about being a husband and father. I miss going golfing or to the movies, or just watching a game together on TV. I miss being able to gloat proudly to him about his grandchildren.

He was heroic to me because he showed me so much about life without doing any more than just being himself. He worked at Bethlehem Steel for 18 years and was wise enough to see that things were going downhill in the industry, and returned to college at night to earn his Masters degree. When the plant shut down and he got laid off, he used that education to take on a job in Financial services. After a few years building a reputation and clientele, he went into business for himself, opening Kreuzer Financial Planning. He was a hard working man.

But anyone that knew him would tell you that he was one of the funniest, friendliest people around. He was a large man, 6'6" and pushing 3 bills. He could be intimidating, but his big smile and easy-going manner would quickly put anyone at ease. By watching him, I learned how to open up to people and show them the positive aspects of myself.

He was married to my mother for 37 years, and was a loving husband. He was a great father and an adoptive dad to my and my sister's friends. All the neighborhood kids would come over and play catch or shoot hoops and dad would be right in the thick of it. He was a big kid. A VERY BIG kid. Looking back on his example reminds me to be an attentive and participatory father. Sure, I have a lot of activities in my life. But I always make time to share with my family.

This is not to say that he was a saint. Like any man, he had his faults. I know from where I get my temper, and my penchant for profanity. And my love of fast food.
But I can look back on his minor failings, learn from them, and attempt to be a better man. I have had my successes and my failures, but he taught me to keep pressing on.

So I press on, try to be the best husband, father and man that I can, and hope that someday my kids see something heroic about me.

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