Last Monday June 1, 2009 my father passed away, leaving a world full of pain, cancer and broken hearts. He is pictured above with his pride and joy, my son Brian taken last June at Bri's graduation party.
My father left a legacy in his children and grandchildren and took much pride in his family. He taught me so much and although the pain is so fresh and the wound so open I feel compelled to tell you about him. I had forgotten how painful it is to lose a parent, as my mom died 20 years ago. I am so grateful for both of my parents and their guidance and love.
I'm so relieved that his pain and suffering is over and that he is "Safely Home in Heaven at Last", with my mom and other loved ones but it leaves such a hole in my heart and my life. Let me tell you a little about him.....
His name is Bob Russell and his life revolved around his family. He fell in love with and married my mom Ursula in the mid 1950's and about a year later my older brother Mark came along, quickly followed by yours truly 14 months later. My younger brother Bobby was born 4 years after me and my parents always said if Bobby had been the first, he would have been the last (he was a wee bit mischievous as a child).
My brothers and I grew up with our parents involved in all that we did. We lived in a little Italian community in Rochester NY and went to a 4 room/8 grade schoolhouse, complete with our catholic Italian church, Most Precious Blood. Dad was a huge part of our parish and worked on everything from Bingo calling to help building our new church, rectory and convent. We were blessed to have our second family in our MPB parish and still have remained close with many that we were lucky enough to grow up with. Because as in all families, blood and love is thicker than water.
He was a plumber by trade and very smart. We had a family affair in his company, Russell Plumbing and Heating with all of us kids worked with dad at one time or another and my mom running the office. We have many wonderful memories of growing up at the "shop".
Now this may sound like a fairy tale childhood and in many ways it was, but my father was also a perfectionist and strove to instill in his children a set of values, morals and a love for working hard at all you do. Of course it took years for us to realize that he spent our whole lives
teaching us in a way that we were not even aware of and for that we are eternally grateful.
He was a man who was not afraid of hard work and worked endless hours both in the field and the office. It was not unusual to hear our telephone ring in the middle of a cold winter's night and dad leaving to fix someone's furnace who was without heat.
He worked hard and played hard. He loved our cottage and boating (but hated to fish), we spent many a day on the water (hence, my love for bodies of water). He loved to travel with my mom and for 17 years, they would go every year to Las Vegas with a group of their friends from MPB. They later bought a time share in Paradise Island Bahamas which was truly their paradise and spent 2 glorious weeks every winter there.
His family and friends always came first and he taught me to think of others first and gave me my love for volunteering and helping others. He passed on his love of movies and music to my younger brother Bobby (who is the director of the historical Little Theatre in Rochester NY) and his love of The Lord, church and friendships to my older brother Mark in Highlands Ranch Co.
He was always a sharp dresser, spent hours on the golf course, loved to go out on Saturday date night with my mom, loved his sports (Mets & Giants fan forever and of course his favorite, hockey), devote father, grandfather and friend. He was a Little League coach, spent many a 6am morning at the hockey rink with my younger brother, drove the Aquinas band equipment truck on many a road trip with my older brother and fought like the dickens to keep my majorette group at Nazareth Academy from being disbanded by a nasty nun.
All in all, Dad taught us everything we know. He and Mom always taught us to reach for the stars, all the while knowing that they were there to catch us if we fell.
He leaves behind our children, his grandchildren who adored him and is the only grandfather who's name was Baba (a combo of Bob and Papa, compliments of his oldest grandchild, Jenny). He has wonderful in-law kids who he always thought of as his own and of course my brothers and I.
Dad, you served The Lord well and did everything He asked of you. He took you to heaven a week ago to enjoy eternal life. Give Mom a big hug and kiss everyday from her kids and grandkids. Until we meet again we will hold you in our hearts forever.
Love, Di, Danny, Bobby, Kathy, Mark, Cathy, Jenny, Chris, A, Brian and Madi