Celebrating Father’s Day is bittersweet for me because I suddenly and unexpectedly lost my own father at the tender age of 15. He suffered a heart attack at home one lazy Sunday morning and life was never the same. Ted “Bunky” Kasica was a good man, and my brothers, mother, and I keenly felt his loss. It’s been 43 years, and I don’t believe any of us ever got over it. In his short life, he left us with many gifts, most importantly a blueprint for what makes a man a great father.
Dad was the 11th of twelve children born to Polish immigrants in South Boston. His own father unexpectedly died when he was just three years old. He never finished high school, but enlisted in the United States Army where he served as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division. In spite of his humble roots, his early life was one grand adventure. The Army took him out of Boston and stationed him in Germany and Austria for years. His love for that life is clearly documented in the few photographs I have of him as a young soldier: Parachuting out of airplanes, skiing in Austria, and competing as an amateur lightweight boxer.
Once home from the Army he soon met my mother and fell in love, married, and settled down at the age of 28 to a quiet life as a cabinetmaker, with four children, a mortgage, and an ailing heart. Continue reading