Father's Day Essay: First of all, raise good people
It has been 25 years since Kevin Costner uttered those profound words, "Dad, wanna have a catch?"
And every man in America cried.
For those who lived in a cave for the last quarter of a century, the movie was "Field of Dreams," the story of Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella's mystical journey to come to peace with his passed on father, Ray Sr. The movie concludes as the two men play catch on the field younger Ray is told to build by the deceased Shoeless Joe Jackson.
I sat in the theater with my father as the credits rolled. Neither of us moved and hardly anyone else did either. It was one of those moments that literally changed my life.
My first reaction was how glad I was to have my father next to me.
My father, Linwood, and my mother, the late Dotty, welcomed me, their sixth child (fifth consecutive son), in 1964 when they were just 26 years of age. Life was basically kids raising kids.
We had little money, bunk beds, powdered milk, but lots of love. I was raised in my own field of dreams with a Wiffle Ball field in the back yard on Sumner Avenue in Milford, Conn.
Dad built our field of dreams with Mom's cooking flour for baselines and lights made out of lamps hanging from the trees to bolster the porch light. Whenever the lights went on, the neighborhood kids would make their way over to Schulte Field and the games of summer were on.
Yes, most games ended in a fight - usually between two Schulte boys - but the memories still stand out as great times.
When I became a father just a month prior to seeing Field of Dreams with my dad, I received great advice from him. He said that my job was to raise good people and create great memories. If I could do those two things, I would be a successful dad.
Being a father to Taylor and then Doug has been the most difficult and rewarding experience of my life. As they got a little older, we moved into our own home on Austin Road in Milford. The neighborhood was similar to the one where I grew up, with kids from all over playing street hockey, football, kick the can and, of course, Wiffle Ball.
One night Taylor, with his goofy glasses, cut off sweat pants and wispy blonde hair, called out to me as we cleaned up the back yard.
"Hey Dad," he called. I turned and there stood my boy under the back yard spotlights. "Wanna have a catch?"
Of course I did.