July 11th. It’s a day I will always know, love and remember. Today, would be my father’s (Guy Vitale, Jr.) 67th birthday.
Skiing Aspen Snowmass – Spring 2008 (He loved that 80’s-style ski jacket.)
Nearly two years ago he passed away. To me, he beat cancer; he stared it down, fought it longer than doctors expected and became more of an inspiration during it. Two years ago, I wrote the blog below called “A Milestone.” I thought it would be fitting to repost on my Dad’s birthday.
Dad doing what he loved – swimming on his 65th birthday at Aspen Glen Country Club in Carbondale, Colorado – 2010.
We tend to think of milestones as our child’s first birthday or your 5th wedding anniversary. What about the milestone of living another year, month or even a day?
I’m sure you never thought about celebrating that. I guess I never did either until last year. That’s when my father was diagnosed with stage four cancer. I never treasured life so much until my Dad told me the news. It was one of those moments in life that I’ll never forget. My heart sunk as far as it could in my chest and shattered into a million pieces.
This month is my Dad’s milestone. He continues to fight his battle, one year later. For one year, he’s undergone the unthinkable: chemotherapy, radiation, you name it. The pain is evident with the constant aches, the ones we only thought we’d feel in our 80s and 90s. He continues to power through, living for each day and each moment that he can spend with his family and friends.
Just last month, my Dad had a different milestone: his 65th birthday.
It was more of an emotional celebration for us all. He sent out cards to his closest friends to leave them with his birthday wish: “Live every second of every day. Life is beautiful.”
Dad on his tractor at Wildwoods Farm in Maquon, Illinois – September 2009.
It’s pretty unbelievable how cancer can truly make you appreciate life. You don’t realize life is that short, until someone actually tells you. Here’s to milestones, whatever yours may be.
Dad and I in Colorado – Spring 2010.