My dad was my hero. Joseph Julius Nappi was his name, but he just went by “Joe.” I lost him when I was 10 years old, but his spirit has lived on within me. In those short years he instilled in me the traits that have made me who I am today–he passed on to me his sense of pride in his name and family, his faith that no matter how crazy things may seem, everything will be alright, and his ready smile.
When I was growing up, everyone commented on how much I looked like him. I wish that was true, as my dad was a very handsome man whose style was impeccable, yet effortless. He oozed happiness. He worked very hard and loved his work, but he lived for time spent among friends and family. He simply radiated joy when he was hosting or entertaining. I cherish the memories of tagging along to business meetings with him, and the hours we’d spend conjuring up new mock-tails he’d let me serve guests.
My father loved me dearly. Some people lament my loss of him at an early age as a tragedy, but I’ve always felt grateful to have had such a great man as a dad, for any amount of time. His wrist watch is one of the few tangible things of his I have left. I wear it daily and hope to someday grow to be as admirable a man as he was. I aspire to take my children to work with me, teach them the skills I have learned, instill in them the courage needed to succeed. And, hopefully, to pass on a smile, as my father has to me.