When I was a kid I would tell my parents “One day I am going to be really rich and take care of you.” I dreamed of being a network news anchor. I was going to replace Joan Lunden. Well, that didn’t exactly happen since Lunden left Good Morning America when I was still in college. Of course, that’s the only reason. I did become a TV news reporter. I worked in a medium size market for nearly a decade. I was born and raised there. After living briefly in a few other cities I realized it was the only place I wanted to call home. GMA was going to have to try and go on without me.
It turns out you wouldn’t get rich by reporting the news. I have a friend who worked as a reporter by day and was arranging fruit baskets by night. She didn’t go to college to stick skewers in a strawberry, but it paid the rent. I didn’t want a mansion or designer shoes. I wanted to help my dad retire. He worked in a factory most of his life. At one point he held down two jobs to make ends meet. My parents loved us and each other. Sure, we never had new cars or went on vacation, but I had everything I needed and more. Back then things I needed included a jersey shirt with George Michael’s face on the front and my name printed on the back, a pink cassette player and Aqua Net.
Until last weekend my father had never seen the ocean. He was looking at someone’s vacation photos and said, “I doubt I will ever get to see the Atlantic unless you throw my ashes in it.” That wasn’t going to happen. I planned a weekend getaway to a beach on the east coast. It took six hours to get there. I envisioned us laughing along the way and the Chariots of Fire theme song playing as the waves crashed around us. It wasn’t as magical as I had hoped. My children bickered along the way. My daughter nearly threw up on several occasions from motion sickness. Traffic was atrocious and I may have developed Tourette Syndrome. It was still worth it when I saw my Dad step into the water.
It doesn’t come close to repaying a man who sacrificed so much for his family, but it’s a start.