"...like I died and went to heaven"

My late father was in many ways a beautifully simple man. Despite becoming Master Chief in the Navy while working as a cryptologist in amazing places like Turkey, Morocco and southern Spain, he kept his life uncomplicated- loved his wife and seven kids, embraced a strong faith and did not shirk domestic chores. While my mom helped ernmously to make ends meet by working full-time as a floral designer, Dad got us up in the morning for school with breakfast ready, made our bag lunches and then went off to Ft. Meade (NSA), MD Monday to Friday, from 8am to 6pm. When he came home, no matter what Mom had on the stove or in the oven, he would often say, as he greeted her with a kiss, "Smells great! I can't wait to eat."

While Mom was an introverted Slovak-American, Dad was the extroverted Italian-American. He would make friends with anyone. Toward the end of his life, when Alzheimer's took much of his mind away, he would continue to display affection such as kissing the hand of the driver who took care to seatbelt him on the bus before taking him to what we affectionately called "Daddy Day Care."

In his later years, when eating something he enjoyed or spotting something amazing or hearing a song in church, he would say, "I feel like I've died and gone to heaven."

I remember an elderly couple whom I met years ago. They loved each other so much and had such a soulful relationship that they told me going to heaven could only be a "lateral move" as they were experiencing it here on earth.

Which reminds me of one of my favorite songs by Andrea Bocelli, called "I Believe." In it are words that inspire me, akin to my father's simplicity, to help make heaven on earth.

One day I'll hear

The laugh of children

In a world where war has been banned.

One day I'll see

Men of all colors

Sharing words of love and devotion.