Today is my dad’s birthday: Salvatore Joseph De Tillio, born February 19, 1940. He would have been 78 years old today. When I see my Uncle Charlie and Uncle Nick, I get a sense of what my dad would look like. Their mannerisms, voice, and soothing manner remind me so much of him.
Besides photos, our stories keep our loved ones alive in our minds. They explain where we get a certain mannerism from or whose genes are responsible for that cowlick or those brown eyes. We understand why we are driven to a certain purpose even if we never met that person. Stories help us to connect. Photos create curiosity.
Where was my father in the above photo? Who was the woman on the left and the two younger girls? Were they walking past and saw someone taking a photo, stopped to avoid getting in the picture, but were captured anyway? Maybe they were one of the first photo bombers. If they were, they are definitely my relations!
Or are they relatives who are adoring my dad, happy to be out on a spring day, even though there is still a chill in the air? The younger girl on the left appears to be wearing roller skates. That brings me back to how I often raced up and down the sidewalks on Long Island in mine. Also how many times I sprained my ankles while rollerskating, which has been a lifelong occurrence.
Dad was always a smart dresser. I have a hat of his that looks just like the one he’s wearing. My son, Nick, wore it to his chorus concert in 7th grade, along with his Poppa’s Flintstone tie as we called it.
Again the photo raises the question of where is he standing? Who is taking the picture? Was he going somewhere or coming home from a fun event? He looks like such a sweet boy and very happy!
The calm demeanor of my dad in this photo is a reflection of how he lived his life. He was very mellow until it was time to not be mellow. I don’t know how old he is in the photo or whose house he is in. But I see resemblances to my boys and nephews in the shape of his eyes, nose and face. My dad lives in me, my children, nieces, and nephews.
I never knew my grandfathers, and I wanted my boys to know their Poppa. Unfortunately, he died too young, but I hope that his stories can bring him to life.
The best stories about my dad was how he always put his family first. He was the first to protect and lived by a very strong code of honor. That might be why I like stories about knights and superheroes. He was both in my eyes and larger than life.
Happy Birthday, Dad. Missing you and love you always.