Real strength

Dear Max,

Real strength isn’t made of muscle. It’s not made of money or power either. It’s not bullheaded or prideful.

Real strength comes from within you. It’s made from the simplest fibers of your being. It all begins with the mind, as Grandmaster Ormanian used to say. 

Find your real strength. Feed your mind. Be powerful by thought, not by force.

Love,

Daddy

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On patriotism

Dear Max,

America is the greatest country in the world. We have the ability to go as far as our dreams can wander in America. 

Respect the flag, respect your veterans and respect your freedom. Because there’s no place better.

Love,

Dad

Making memories

Dear Max,

Your first parade, your first professional baseball game, your first trip to Detroit, your first ride on a carousel, it all happened today on the Fourth of July. 

These memories are so special. I love making memories with you. There’s nothing like it.

Love,

Dad

Happy Birthday!

Dear Max,

Today is your very first birthday, and I couldn’t be more proud of you! 

Every time I see you I’m happy. Your little face. Your big smile. It’s perfect. 

When you came into this world last year and I saw you for the first time I was beside myself. I laughed and cried at the same time. It was the best day of my life. 

Happy birthday old pal. 

Love,

Dad

1 year ago today

Dear Max,

One year ago today I took your mom to the hospital. It wasn’t that easy though. I didn’t believe her. She let me sleep and get up for my regular time for work and then told me she thinks it’s time – time for you to come.

You watch all these movies and every time a baby scene comes up the woman is screaming and she ends up barely getting to the hospital or having the baby on the way there. It was very different in real life.

I almost made her drive herself but I listened to my better judgement and drove her. We got to the hospital and they said today would be the day but to go have breakfast, take a stroll around and come back in an hour or two. 

I was so surprised how calm the whole process was. In fact, after we checked into the hospital we were with one nurse through much of mom’s labor.

The lesson here is listen to the expert. Listen to Mom.

Love,

Dad

Being picky

Dear Max,

People say I’m picky. I just say I know what I want. There’s a big difference. 

The difference is I have my mind made up on what I like. There’s no point to spending life being flexible to so many things you don’t like. Of course, in certain situations, flexibility shows character and patience – which I agree with. However when it comes to food, cars, clothes, music and friends – be picky. 

Don’t waste your time choosing things you don’t like. Choose happiness every time. 

Love,

Dad

Share a Coke

Dear Max,

Share a Coke with me. My dad and I used to. We would fill up the glasses to the brim with crushed ice, so much so that it made your nose cold.

Those shared Cokes were shared moments of father and son bonding time. At home, at Grandma Iva’s, out to dinner, at a gig, on vacation, at a classic car show, working in the garage, fishing, you name it – Coke was king.

Now, every time I see or drink a Coke I see my dad’s smirk and remember when he used to say, “let me take the first sip to make sure it’s not poison.” 

Good memories never get old, even if they’re branded.

Love,

Dad

Your comfort zone

Dear Max,

Life starts at the end of your comfort zone.

It starts at the top of your budget.

It starts at 1,000 feet in the air.

It starts at 100 mph.

It starts with the tough questions.

It starts with questioning yourself.

It starts when you bet it all on 19.

It starts in an unfamiliar place.

It starts at an unfamiliar time.

It starts bigger.

It starts sooner.

It starts when you’re sick, tired, confused or busy.

It starts at any moment.

Push yourself to the edge of your comfort zone. Discover how great life is and how far you can go. You may be surprised at yourself, but I won’t be. 

Love,

Dad

Representation

Dear Max,

As I’m sitting at the breakfast bar at the airport Coney Island at 7am on a Wednesday, I can’t help but watch all of the travelers pass by. Some are frustrated, some are tired and most are wearing pajamas or hooded sweatshirts.

Traveling on a plane is a privilege – people forget that. If you travel for work, school or church, you are a representative of that institution. People see or talk to you and ultimately make a judgement call based on the greater entity. As I travel to Manhattan for work it’s at the forefront of my mind.

Represent yourself well. Every time. You will never regret that.

Love,

Dad 

Being remembered and providing value

Dear Max,

I once took a leak next to the bass singer for Elvis’ background group The Jordanaires. Yes, you read that right. 

You never know when or where you will meet someone important. Whether in the bathroom of a old hall in Toledo, on the field or in a bar you should be prepared. Can you tell someone who you are and what you do in 30 seconds? Probably so. Can you do it in a way that they will remember you?

The most important thing is to provide value. Answering the question “why should they care?” should be the first thing on your mind. Give someone a reason to care and they’ll remember you. 

When I met Elvis’ bass singer I wasn’t prepared. But, since then, I’ve met a number of people whom I’ve made an impression on, who remember me.

Love,

Dad

PS: Even the people on the playground could one day be in a position to hire or fire you. How do you want them to feel about you?