Papadukes Was Amazing


So it occurs to me that a lot of what I've written paints my dad in entirely the wrong light, and gives people the impression that he wasn't such a great guy. That's not my intention at all, and I wanna make something clear right now: Both my folks are/were amazing people, and I'm lucky to have them as a part of my life. Anything people might see as a redeeming quality in me I got from my incredibly loving parents.

Pops had his flaws, but he was a truly awesome individual who gave me a lot. That isn't just material things either... he gave me so much insight into the world and taught me so much. If it weren't for him, I would be a totally different person than I am today. I like who I am today and wouldn't wanna be anyone else. I owe my Dad huge debt of gratitude for everything he did for me, and I'd be defaulting on that debt if I let his legacy stay the way I've left it. 

He deserves to be remembered for the awe inspiring man he was, not for the disasters I created in his wake.

First off, I know the story of my childhood made him seem like a violent rage-junkie, but that's nowhere near the truth. He had a bad temper, its true, but he was an incredibly understanding and kind-hearted individual, especially when it came to me and my brother Pat. He did do my older brother wrong at times, but even with Dom, Dad did his best to treat him as a son.

He just always knew what I needed to hear, and how to tell it to me in a way that I'd take the right lesson. I remember one time when I was little he had bought me a fishing pole for I think my birthday. It wasn't anything fancy, just a fishing rod meant for a kid to learn with that had a picture of Snoopy painted on the reel. Me, him, my older brother and his dad(Grandpa Sam) all went fishing so me and my brother could learn how. I remember Pops and Grandpa Sam patiently walking me through how to tie the hook, bait it, cast the line, telling me what lures and bobbers and sinkers were for... you know, all the basics of fishing. 

After I got my first successful cast off we were sitting waiting for a bite, and they were *quietly* explaining to me that we couldn't make too much noise or we'd scare the fish away. After a while, he told me to slowly bring the line in because if everything stayed still too long the fish would know something was up. Fish are smarter than you think, by the way. 

Eventually, my hook got caught on something, and at the time I'd never been so excited in my life... "It's my first catch! I can't wait to show everyone when I get home!", is all I remember thinking. I frantically turned the crank on the reel. I think from how everything was happening my dad could tell whatever it was, it wasn't a fish, but he encouraged me anyway. When it finally turned out to be a shoe, Pops said something along the lines of "Hey, its still your first catch, cause you caught something. You may not have caught a fish, but a shoe is something too." That took the sting off a bit. For some reason just hearing him tell me it wasn't a waste and he was still proud of me, it lifted my heart and got rid of the disappointment I was feeling. I guess you could say he put the wind back in my sails.

Even when my parent's marriage was going sour, he put us ahead of himself. One Christmas morning in particular comes to mind. I think this was the last Christmas before the divorce actually, now that I'm thinking about it. Him and Mom had been fighting, and Mom was sleeping on the couch at this time. I remember I'd slept in his room, and gotten up a little before him. Me, Mom, and my brothers were all itching to get at the gifts; We were just waiting on him to wake up so we could start the main event. I know now that this period of my life was awful for both my parents. He was going through a lot of anguish internally, but in this story he didn't show it at all. Instead of coming down all sour ready to argue and what not the way you would expect from a man going through a divorce, he came down the stairs with a big ole smile on his face and did a little dance to let us know it was time for the presents. He was probably more excited about it all than my brothers and I were.He wasn't gonna let his problems ruin a special day for his kids. I could tell Mom felt the same way. 

For just a brief moment in all that chaos, I felt at peace. Something about how both of them were that morning took all the worry I had been feeling out of me and warmed my soul. 

He also looked out for my brothers and I, all three of us. I remember one time Dom was out fishing in the lake near our house, and a couple kids started bullying him. I forget exactly how or why, but I remember it started to turn physical. Me and my buddies went and told my dad Dom was getting jumped down by the lake. He explodes out of bed and sprints there, bad back and all, to take care of him. I'd never seen a person move that fast in my life before that moment or haven't ever since. Protecting us and making sure we had the best life could offer, that was all he really cared about.

And make no mistake about it: Making sure I had the best life they could give is exactly what both my parents did at all times. The only thing that mattered to either of them was the giving the best life they could to their kids. They'd buy us things, take us out to eat, anything we asked for... If we wanted or needed something, they did everything they could to make sure we had it.

When I was down in Florida taking care of Pops, those were the best times. We'd sit on his bed or out on the back porch smoking cigarettes and talking for hours and hours about anything and everything. Pop culture and politics. Music and philosophy. Sports and spirituality. If it was something I had an interest in, Dad had an interest in it too. 

He didn't just tell me what I wanted to hear either, he told me what he thought I needed to hear whether I was gonna like what he had to say or not. I played a song he didn't like? He'd tell me his opinion and why he felt that way. He thought sugarcoating things would hurt me more in the long run. My closer friends can tell you I definitely inherited that attitude from him, but for some reason I can't just can't seem to reproduce that tact pops used to softened it all. He just knew how to say things in a way that wouldn't hurt my feelings or make me angry. He was very gentle with his words in a way I wish I could imitate.

Talks like these are when he taught me to play guitar... most of the philosophies I use in my writing are things I've ripped word for word from him. I don't want to make it sound like Mom didn't contribute at all, because she definitely did, but the parent I tried the most to emulate was Papadukes. He was Big Dave, I was Little Dave, and that's just how it is.

The memory I treasure the most, more than any memory regardless of whether it involved Pops, was one of these times:

It starts out with me in my room playing computer. He pops his head in and asks, "Hey man, I'm headed to CVS, you need anything?"

"Nah man, I'm good thanks"

"Alright, cya in a few"

All pretty tame stuff, I didn't think much of it. He comes back with a brown paper bag, one of the ones you'd pack a lunch in, stuffed to the top with psychedelic mushrooms. He said it was two ounces, I took his word for it.

"Dude, I thought you said you were going to CVS"

"I did go to CVS, I just never actually went into the store!"...

That little exchange is still one of my favorite stories to tell at parties and what not. I know a lot of people have a negative view of street drugs, and when it comes to things like meth, coke and heroin I can see how its at least a little bit justified. 

Shrooms and weed are very positive things though. They can do a lot of good in the world if people would come down off their high horses and give the drugs a fair chance chance. If you think anything about that story makes my father a junkie, you're sadly mistaken. I hope you can set that bias aside.

Anyway, back to the story: 

He gave me a bunch of these magic mushrooms he just bought. No need to ask, he knew I wanted to trip balls with him. We didn't involve any scales in the exchange so I can't give you exact amounts, but I know just eyeballing it based on my prior experience handlings the things that I got about a quarter ounce; He ate more shrooms than I've ever seen a person eat in my life.... like half of what was left after giving me that quarter got shoveled into his mouth in a little under a minute. These things were bomb as f^&! too. He said he wanted to talk to God. 

I'd tripped a lot before this particular outing and I've had quite a few experiences with Psilocybin-induced "altered states of consciousness" after this one. You gotta understand I'm not being hyperbolic when I say that I've never been on a trip that matches up to this one. 

All the normal things you'd associate with getting blasted out of your mind on shrooms were happening: Heightened spiritual awareness, wild visual hallucinations, sensitivity to music, euphoric giggliness. No signs of a bad trip in sight. I can't really describe it much past that, if you've got experience with these wonderful things, you know why. Sorry to all the non-experienced folk out there, I want to put it into words, but I just can't.

So we put on some tunes and eventually one of us, or possibly both of us, got it into our heads that we wanna hear Led Zeppelin. Pops was the grand shaman, and he insisted that the only albums to be put on the list were Led Zeppelin's untitled albums, referred to as One, Two, Three, and Four. Absolutely nothing else made the cut. No Houses of the Holy or Physical Graffiti. He just wanted to hear the first four albums, so that's what we heard. We sat there for hours talking about life and things involved with it the way I told you we often did, just sitting there jamming out to Zeppelin, shroomin' out of our minds the entire time. Eventually it gets to "Stairway to Heaven" and we both just kinda paused what we were saying. For some reason, we knew the song was more important than anything we were gonna think up. 

If you haven't heard the song before, go give it a listen. 

F&*! it... Everyone go give it a listen just so we're all on the same page. 

Some people think its overrated, I'm not saying its the greatest song ever written, but I've got this very special moment attached to it. To truly understand this next part, you need to have at least heard the song whether you like the music or not. 

The part towards the end of the song, when the melodic guitar stops and it start repeating the heavy chords. When it goes from a classical in the Beethoven sense of the word, baroque guitar style and turns into hard-rock, a feeling washes over me that I just can't describe... I've never felt more whole is the best I can do. There was a thought rolling through my head somewhere along the lines of "I don't have all the answers and I never will, but I don't need them to be happy cause I already have everything I need right here inside me." 

Whatever it is inside of my soul that I try to fill with all my vices was momentarily truly filled. Its the only time in my life that comes close.

I look over at pops for a brief instant, just to make sure I'm not off in my own looking stupid, and he's just totally absorbed in the song too. Eyes closed head rockin' back and forth with the rhythm of the music. I can tell he's feeling whatever it is I'm feeling.

The song ends, we both look each other in the eye...

I go, "Damn... that was intense..." 

He makes the only logical response: "Ya.. it sure was..."

There was nothing else that needed to be said about it, and we had said all we could say anyway. We both went back to whatever it was we were talking about before the song came on.

It sort of reminds me of the legend of Siddhartha, the original Buddha, and the moment he found enlightenment... I can't say what went on in his head sitting under the Bodhi tree that day, and I know I'm nowhere near enlightened, but whenever I'm told the story this is the closest thing I have to an experience that relates. 

I'll never be able to put it into words, but what I felt that day changed my life, and this is little mushroom trip is by far one of the greatest experiences I'll ever have; It makes all the other bulls&*! I've gone through worth it. 

Like so much of what makes life worth living to me, It all happened because of the amazing man I'm blessed to have been given for a father. I'm lucky I have the privilege of calling that dude "Dad". 

Ya, he had a hard life and that left him with a nasty mean streak if you caught his bad side. He didn't deal with negative emotions well, because he was always taught dealing with emotions wasn't what men do, just like the rest of us dudes. That fed his temper and led to everything coming out as anger. He had a cynical view of the world, and a distrusting view towards the people in it. He got hurt by the people he trusted too many times to see the world any other way. We all have our flaws though. 

Pops was a true sage despite all that. There's no way I'm ever gonna come close to putting how or why he was so amazing into words, but I gotta give it a shot anyway.... 

He was knowledgeable, but he didn't use his vast ocean of knowledge to put himself on a pedestal. 

Philosophical and deep, but he didn't take life too seriously. 

Silly, but only cause you wouldn't take what he was saying seriously if he wasn't. 

Kind, gentle and loving in a way I can only hope to be... Just a big old teddy bear really. 

I miss him, and I wish he was around today so I could hear his voice and give him a hug for my sake. Everybody who didn't get to meet him missed out big time, and the whole world lost something special when he left it.

I wish you coulda met him, 'cause he woulda blown your mind and changed the way you look at the world for the better. I don't think he woulda tried to do that sorta thing on purpose to impress you, cause he didn't give a s%*! about impressing people. He wanted you to like him and all... He was just humble and didn't like it when people put him on a pedestal the way I am right now. All he wanted to be seen as was nothing more than an average dude.

He was so much more than average though. Blowing peoples minds and changing how they saw the world without even realizing it was just what he did. He couldn't help it.

He was just a natural born worldshaker, no "if's", "and's" or "but's" about it.

I’m what happens when you live by the motto ‘Live Fast, Die Young’ then you fuck up and survive
— I Love You Dad. I'm So Sorry.