Dad: My Favorite Hero

My dad was good. That doesn't sound like an amazing opening line, but it's the best word for him. He was a good, good person who always did what was good for others. He was good to hang out with, good to talk to, good to have on your side, and good to his family.

We have a lot in common, or should I say I got a lot from him.

I got his appetite. He liked to joke about me being vegetarian, but even though we put different things on our plates we could put away the same massive amounts and take no prisoners (which is Norm-speak for leave no leftovers).

I got his trip-planning skills. I'm so sorry he never got to go on his trip to Italy, but he got to plan it and I know he found a pleasure in that that only I can understand. I told him he wouldn't have liked Venice anyway. You have to pay to use the toilets.

I got his love of being cheap, or as I prefer to call it, financially minimalist.

I got his dry sense of humor.

I got his sweet tooth. He made the best chocolate chip cookies in the world and he was constantly trying to improve upon them to figure out what we liked most. My favorite variation is when he added cookies to the cookies. He blended some chocolate peanut butter cookies and mixed them into the dough, because if we liked each separately then we may like both together. It wasn't my favorite because it tasted the best, but because it so clearly showed that this guy was the best. He brought us his cookies, cookie dough to replenish the cookies when the first batch was gone, warm brownies, and early-morning maple bars.

I also got his little toenail that snags sheets, his stubbornness and his temper, and I love him for all of those things too. I love him for everything that made him him and everything he gave me.

I'm not ready to start eating healthy.

I'm not ready to not answer his calls every day.

I'm not ready to stop asking him questions about cooking and car maintenance and Costco deals.

I'm not ready to not have spaghetti Sundays at his house.

I'm not ready to accept that my daughter only gets 7 years with him, and I only get 37.

I'm not ready for the world to be without his goodness.

The week before he died and the day before he became unresponsive, my daughter was assigned to write an essay about her favorite hero. She wrote about her papa, and she recorded herself reading it. My stepmom played the recording every day for him and he'd better have believed it all because every word was true. He was "the best papa anyone could ever have." And he's my favorite hero, too.

This is her essay:

Papa: My Favorite Hero

My papa is my favorite hero. He was a firefighter and in the Air Force. Those are two very brave and noble jobs. He saved lives and fought forest fires when he was a firefighter. He is a Vietnam war veteran. He is fighting COVID19 to come home to us. He has been in the hospital for 6 weeks. He is brave and I can’t wait for him to come home. He is a good papa for so many reasons. Some nights when I spend the night he gives me pizza and I usually don’t have it at home. He makes me spaghetti, bakes me cookies, gets me donuts, and takes care of me. He is the best papa anyone could ever have and I’m so proud of him!

There is a wake of love left by this man.

Let's keep it going that way.


Norman Charles Cione
November 22, 1947 — March 2, 2021