I know I don’t really say it that often, but figured with Father’s Day right around the corner, I wanted you to know how much you mean to me. From as early as I could remember, you have always been the driving force in my life who has inspired me to do what I love, perform in front of hundreds of people, push myself to the limits and never give up. I live my life by following your lead and throughout your life, you have always managed to do the things that make you happy. Whether it’s performing in a show, tap dancing, playing tennis or doing the hustle with mom, you have lived a life anyone can truly be proud of.
You’ve also been one of my biggest supporters — whether it was cheering or letting out audible sighs in the stands during a tennis match, attending all my singing performances and shows and being that voice of reason in my life who has told me not to take crap from anyone and truly share what’s on my mind. I know I’m more like mom in that I keep things bottled up until I spontaneously burst, but I do want you to know that as I’m getting older, I am getting more bold about sharing what I truly feel and it actually feels good when I give people a piece of my mind.
On the career and community front you have always been a pioneer and a leader. I still remember how you played an instrumental role in being one of the original educators to become involved in the Special Olympics back in the 1970’s. At work, you were always known as a tough cookie, but for your close friends and co-workers, you were a total mush. And at home, you managed to always land the job as President of the Neighborhood Association. Everyone in the community could always count on you. So much so, that they even have confused you with being the “Super” – calling you when the plumbing went, a window needed fixing or if they had lighting issues!
Dad, you and I have shared some incredible memories – especially when I took you to Nashville for the CMA Awards and you helped me out on the red carpet – handing bottled water to Brad Paisley and all the other country stars and even wrote a song called the Jewish Cowboy.
And speaking of your poems — they are truly legendary. I’ll never forget the poem you wrote for me on my wedding day — I have that one framed in my bedroom and am grateful that I inherited your knack for finding ways to tell a story or re-write a lyric with a clever rhyme.
Let’s not forget your fabulous gift for storytelling. You even started to write a few children’s books when the kids were little and we surprised you on a special birthday by publishing Grandpa Fix-It. Sure it may not have been a bestseller, but among the Feldman and Stollers, it’s a family favorite.
I also know that you tend to have a short fuse when things don’t go your way and honestly, that has led to some of the most memorable and comical moments in my life. Like the time you used to start our humongous Plmouth Fury with the words “Son of a Bitch.” Or the day Eric and I got caught shoplifting fishing equipment at Jamesway in Port Jervis and you smoked about three packs of cigarettes in an hour. Okay, maybe that’s a memory that should be left in the fishing pole section. But I digress.
There’s also another amazing trait that you have that was once embarrassing for me that I now use along with my husband Darin when we are unhappy with the way we are treated. I remember cringing whenever you’d complain about the service or food in a restaurant only to be amazed when the waiter or waitress gave us a free item or lowered our bill. But the best time was when we went to Italy on Perillo tours and after a friend told you to use his name because he had had an awful experience on the tour, you made sure to call Mario Perillo and explain you were concerned and he told you not to worry, they’d take good care of us. When we arrived at the airport the day of our trip, you told the woman at the check in counter, “You must be expecting us. We’re the Stollers,” and to our surprise, she said yes and upgraded us to first class!
Dad, you know exactly how to live life. On your terms, telling people exactly what’s on your mind, all while doing what you love. You’ve been performing since you were a toddler and still do it to this day. You are 75 years old and still can run me ragged on the tennis court. You can still save us a bundle at a restaurant if a waiter trips up or the food doesn’t live up to your expectations, and you have always been in my corner throughout my childhood, my career and my life as a wife and mother.
I love you very much and want you to know that you are an amazing dad who has instilled a sense of creativity and curiosity that I plan to take with me throughout my life. For that I am grateful and wish you the very best Father’s Day.