My Father, the Captain.


With the wind blowing through his hair and a big grin on his face, my fatherís favorite past time was always cruising the South Shore of Long Island in our family boat.

Whether it included fishing for Black Bass under the Third Bridge, or going out for a Sunday joyride, I can vividly recall my father standing confidently at the controls. Navigating us through another weekend of fun. Boating was one of those little pleasures in life that set him free, and he loved to share his passion for adventure on the water with us.

He truly was the captain of his ship and the leader of his family. With his strong German accent, piercing blue eyes, and tall stature, he could seem intimidating. Whenever my sister and I were being bad, all it took was one stern look from him to set us straight. But in all actuality, he was a quiet, patient man. Never one to raise his voice or get upset. A gentle giant of sorts, respected and loved by everyone that knew him.

To me he was the best. My biggest role model. A pillar of strength, who always had the answer to every question or could solve any problem. But most of all, he was a loving father.

Growing up in post war Germany with very little, he worked hard to give us the very best of everything. Even after being diagnosed with leukemia, he still continued to provide all he could for his family.

After eight years of keeping his cancer at bay with different medications, it was decided that the best choice for survival were to undergo chemotherapy followed by a bone marrow transplant.

Being younger at the time, I never really understood what was happening to my father. My parents never talked much about it. I think it would have broken their hearts to tell us how sick he really was. All I knew was that he seemed exhausted most of the time. That was my first introduction to cancer, and it would prove to be a bitter lesson.

It wasnít until my father started his initial dose of chemotherapy that I began to realize the seriousness of the illness he was about to fight head on.

One day, about a week prior to him being admitted into the hospital for his first chemo treatment and transplant, I found him sitting alone at the top of the cellar steps. He was crying. I had never seen my father cry. I knew at this point how scared he really was.

I walked over and sat down beside him. As I looked over at him, I wrapped my arm around him and said, "Donít worry dad. Everything will be okay." And I really felt that was the truth.

As his treatments progressed, my father always greeted us with a positive attitude every time we went to visit him in the hospital. Over the course of the next few months it was hard to see him utterly drained and zapped of all his strength. But, he never gave up and faced each new day with unbelievable strength and determination.

In the end however, due to complications, he lost his final battle in a long war fighting cancer. Passing away peacefully with his family and friends by his side.

In 2000, along with 1,500 other recruits, I graduated from the New York City Policy Academy. To me, it represented the start towards growing into the man Iíve always wanted to become. I knew how proud he would have been to see his shining star in a sea of blue uniforms, taking those first few steps towards that next stage in life.

Not too long ago I had the opportunity to go for a joyride on my friendís boat. It was my first outing on the water without my father there to lead the way. Itís funny how they say, "Time heals all wounds." because this definitely was a big step towards that healing process. Although, instead of feeling sad, I had a sense of freedom and joy. The kind my father always had.

As I stood at the controls, confidently navigating along the South Shore of Long Island, with the wind blowing through my hair, and a big grin on my face, I finally realized how Iíd become just like the man Iíve always wanted to be. My father.

Story by: Peter






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