My dad died on FridayNovember 24, 2017, this photo was from 2 weeks ago, when I saw him last. He was suffering immensely from Alzheimer’s and his passing was natural and necessary. My Mom, Carol Foresta was by his side and my sister Molly Gia Foresta and I are in the Bronx sitting Shiva for the Italian raised Catholic Atheist…his sister, my Aunt Diane Materazzi will be joining us Tuesday to honor and remember my dad.
My Dad was a Lefty, to most people that is not a big deal, but as a basketball player with an accurate 3 pointer…he was deadly and earned the nickname “Shot Gun.” This followed him into the Military Police for the Air Force where he earned Sharp Shooter designation and served in Vietnam. War and the secrecy and lies surrounding the areas he fought in destroyed him mentally and emotionally. My dad used AA and therapy extensively to survive and be with us as a family.
When my dad cleaned up, he became a teacher in NYC for 25 years. He started in English and History and evolved
Into following his passion for art and teaching kids art. He spent his last years in retirement painting and taking art classes.
My dad taught me 3 important lessons in life. 1) You Can Do Anything. He stopped drinking alcohol because he wanted to stay in our family, from blacking out drunk to 35 years of sobriety. It wasn’t easy, some days he went to multiple AA meetings because he had to. He wrote plays, acted in the theater, screamed, yelled, fought and struggled with the ideas of freedom and justice.
2) Love. I met my dad when I was 7, he didn’t have to love me, but he did and I knew that. I also knew he was crazy, so who knows. I know that he loved my mom and understood that he could never be as smart as her, but by simply copying her he could be a respectable adult. Love makes you do stuff like that, become a respectable adult.
3) Good Music Is Important. My dad loved Jazz from Miles Davis to Thelonius Monk, he loved Motown and would sing the songs from the street corners of Brooklyn in his teens to our apartment in the Bronx growing up. I don’t know if he was a good singer, but he sang a lot better than my mom (that doesn’t tell you much beyond I got my singing from my Mom). He equally loved Crosby Stills and Nash and would turn up the radio if a Jimi Hendrix song came on. Every revolution needs music to tell the stories of our time and my dad loved the music of the revolution.
My dad was definitely not the easiest person for my Mom to Love, nor was he the best father. There were many loud crazy fights and rash decisions made in anger. When he couldn’t be with us he slept in his room, depressed. The struggle was real and the effects of war and PTSD were a life long battle that effected our family.
The biggest change in my life directly attributed to my Dad, is my Sister. I cried when he told me on the phone that she was born, disappointed I wouldn’t have a brother to play football with. I cried again 2 weeks later when I met her and realized she was a tiny baby (evidently I was not the sharpest tool in the shed as a kid). Having a Sister changed my life in a way only matched by getting married and having my own kids. My sister and I are hybrids, genetically mis-matched and raised differently yet exactly the same, we have been deeply loved by our parents and each other.
My dad loved Brooklyn, my Mom, his Sister, my Sister and I, his Grandkids…Music, Art, The Mets and Pro Basketball. He was crazy, yelled and struggled with anger and chemical imbalance. He loved our neighborhood and once he was with people, loved talking with them honestly. He didn’t have many friends and never called people on the phone nor emailed them, but he really did like the friends he had and would always update me about them.
My dad did yoga way before it was cool and would meditate in our living room early in the morning. He came to Marin Power Yoga for gentle yoga and bodywork and loved it. He tried TRX with me once and the Alzheimer’s had progressed past getting his body to learn new things. My dad loved his community here in The Bronx and equally loved visiting our community in San Anselmo. I said goodbye to my dad a year ago, before his health declined and I am grateful he has moved beyond the pain he was living with.