Remembering a Special Dad

Sorry I haven’t been blogging here much but I’ve been busy, having just released my second book, first novel, “Shrouded in Pompei.”  Writing priorities and life.

Fantino picnicYet, Dad’s Day is approaching. It’s a day that makes me miss my Dad all the more, even though I think of him every day. and have written about him both here and in my published memoir.  This year there seems to be a media push by today’s Dads touting themselves as Fathers 2.0, claiming they are more emotionally connected, more hands on, more in touch with their kids, more everything. It’s not only self-aggrandizing but untrue.

My Dad could not have been more hands on, sometimes literally, ouch! My Dad was a divorced, weekend Dad, who made sure he was never further than across the street, down the block or at the other end of a phone. Weekends had him cooking, washing and keeping us thoroughly entertained, while teaching us to dance on top of his shoes or make a quick throw across home plate.

He taught me respect and he taught me love by example. He did not seek accolades. He knew he needed to be different from his father but he didn’t bring attention to it, he just did it, without searching for anything but always hoping for our love and respect, which he always had.

When he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, his first thought was to get him into a drug trial. “Let me be the guinea pig so you kids don’t have to go through this.”  Even in his darkest time, he showed us strength and taught by example.

Now, don’t get me wrong, my Dad was not perfect. Just ask my sisters. He was generous with his love and attention but a strict, Sicilian-Calabrese father, tight with a penny. It was a Father’s Day joke when all three of us wound up giving him the same card, referencing this weakness.  He was also strict when it came to our dating choices and all the boys in Batter Up!the neighborhood knew not to mess with him. Yet, during one difficult heartbreak for me, he gently told me “don’t worry, he wasn’t the one for you.”  I was shocked and asked why he always seemed to like the guy. “If I had given you my opinion would you have listened? So I accepted your choice.”

I think I am quite a lucky girl to have been his daughter when I hear others who did not have a great relationship with their Dad. Maybe today’s Dads need to take a back seat while being front and center in their child’s life rather than trying to pat themselves on the back with their achievements. Children and how they live their lives should be reward enough for any father.

By the way Dad, I’m taking your favorite grandson to the stadium next week to see the Yanks crunch the BoSox. It’s Jeter’s final season. Can you believe it?

Estate Planning for the Middle Class

Why do middle income earners find it so hard to talk about money?  Poor people will tell you they have none.  Wealthy people will tell you their net worth to the closest million or billion.  Yet, ask a middle income earner to sit down and take stock of his or her assets and the room goes silent.  It’s like asking many to give up state secrets under the threat of torture rather than execute an estate plan.

The reality is that we’re all going to die and whether it is 10 days away or 10 years away, you should know what you own down to your last ten cents.  Most estate attorneys require Westchester Estate Attorneyan inventory of your assets to better guide and assist you in planning ahead.  There is no cookie-cutter approach to drafting a will, trust or any other estate document so don’t call a law firm to request a “simple will.”  By working with a competent attorney to map out a custom estate plan, you will be informed and well-situated to deal with the future.

In gearing up for the asset inventory, here are a few tips to help ease the process:

1.  Check your bank/brokerage accounts on a weekly basis.  Not only is this good for safety in this climate of identity theft, but it gives you a good estimate of the value of your cash/securities.

2.  Check the value of your real property/co-op apartment on a periodic basis.  Just because you paid $150,000 for your first apartment three short years ago does not mean that it is still worth that much.  In fact, it might be worth less.  Websites like Trulia and Zillow will display recent market sales in your area simply by typing in your street address.

3.  Valuable collections should be appraised periodically.  Even if you don’t insure the artwork, coin collection, jewelry or other valuables, a periodic appraisal is worth the cost to place a value on your assets.  Maybe it’s time to cash in on a hot market or realize your cherished but valueless LP collection is sadly taking up dusty storage space now.

4.  Money is just a thing.  It comes, it goes.  We have it, we don’t.  Yet, it’s the one thing many of us feel so uneasy about, the one thing which can make life easy or hard.

Without a will, the courts will decide who gets your estate no matter what it’s worth,  So your Last Will and Testament should be the first and not the last thing you do when planning your future.

50 Years of Beatles’ Memories

It was a Friday…I remember it well. My Dad, an eager, young architect couldn’t wait to see the new JFK Airport and I was excited by his enthusiasm.  We ventured into the weekend traffic to pick up my aunt at the airport and drove into history.  Hoards of screaming girls were everywhere.  Imagine if that were to happen today. They’d shut the airport down, thinking it was an army of invading terrorists.  How things have changed.

I knew The Beatles were coming to town.  We all did.  How could you not.  It was the first thing in just over two months to take our minds off the great national tragedy we had suffered with the Kennedy assassination.  As with any period of grief, it is different for everyone but when a nation shares such an overwhelming loss, the cloud of grief lingers because of the shared miasma.  When a ray of difference breaks through the cloud, there is no holding back the light that permeates everywhere.  The Beatles were the ray of light a nation in mourning needed.

Who knew what would happen next?  Come Sunday night my Dad asked, “So, are you going to watch The Beatles?”  Silly question, my family watched Ed Sullivan every night.  This would be no different.  Yeah, right.

Ed Sullivan smiles while standing with The Beatles on the set of his variety show on Feb. 9, 1964.

Express Newspapers/Getty Images

“Ladies and gentlemen, The Beatles.”

That’s all it took.  We were hooked.  We were sucked into their world and they changed our world for the better.  My Mom and I laughed when the graphic under John’s picture read “Sorry, girls, he’s married.”  That’s OK, we still had three others to dream about.

Their music was inspiring and uplifting at a time when a nation needed something to drag it from the abyss.  Thank you John, Paul, George and Ringo for showing us the light. Thank you Mom and Dad for indulging my every Beatle whim for the rest of my life.

I went to Liverpool last year for my first Beatles’ journey, day trippin’ in Liverpool.  The BEST trip of my life and I can’t wait to go back.