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Proud To Be A Papa

As much as I don’t feel I’ve done as good a job being a father, as I should have, and/or could have done, I can honestly say that I am so proud to be celebrating Father’s Day today, as a member of that group sometimes called “Papa.”

I’m especially excited with this Father’s Day this year, because in just a week or so, my son, Jon, even though he’s a father already, with the birthing classes, setting up the nursery, and helping launder all the little outfits our granddaughter will be wearing, etc., will soon be holding his first born child. His first child, his daughter, is still getting ready to meet the world, (you know how long it takes those girls to get ready for things, lol), but soon he’ll officially be able to call himself a Daddy, Dad, Father, Pop, and/or Papa, hopefully in a week to 10 days. Just over a month ago, our daughter-in-law, Erica, celebrated her early Mother’s Day as she began carrying our granddaughter into the home stretch. Since they found out they were expecting back in November, they began the realization that soon they both will be officially called mommy and daddy. They will be holding, feeding, changing, walking, playing with, teaching, getting up at 3:00 in the morning with, and loving every bit of all of that, with their daughter. They will impatiently await the first time she calls they by mama, or dada, and takes those first steps. I have to warn them though, as parents, we long for the days when our children walk and talk, but a short while after that, we seem to just tell them to sit down and be quiet. Sometimes, as parents, we should be careful for what we wish. But they will absolutely love being called Mommy and Daddy.

Certain titles bestowed on us in our lives become very special to us. In my life, I have been privileged to have worn many hats, all of which have been very special to me, and have made me very proud to have worn. I was a teacher, and I was proud to have worked with so many great young people. The respect they show(ed) me whenever I hear/heard them say Mr. Lombardo, will stay with me forever.

I was an umpire for many years in this area. It was a thrill to have young people call me Ump, or Blue. Some even referred to me as Mr. Umpire. Again, it was that sign of respect, that will make me forever grateful to all of those who showed me that respect. (I do know that it wasn’t always “peaches and cream” nice things said from some players, coaches, or fans, but that was a small percentage of all those I encountered on the ballfields, and it came with the job.)

I was a coach in this area for many years. I coached football, baseball, and softball for many, many years, and had the wonderful opportunity to have worked with hundreds of great young people on the gridiron and the diamonds. To this day, whenever I run into any of my former players of any of the teams or sports I coached, most often I am still called “Coach” by most, if not all of them. This gives me an unbelievable rush, hearing the title of my relationship with them, as the opening of their greeting to me.

(When Jon played college baseball at Medaille College from 2008-2011.) It was a tradition while he was a player there that each player be given a nickname, one chosen by the upperclassmen players. Taking his from his surname, Jon was given his maverick nickname of Lombo.

During seasons 2, 3, and 4, Sally and I began bringing food to the games for the players to eat between games of their doubleheaders, or on the bus to hold them over until the bus stopped for food.

We brought stuff for bologna and/or bologna and cheese sandwiches, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. (Those were the favorite choices by the players.) We also brought granola bar snacks, and fruit, and on weekend home doubleheaders, we brought our mini butane grill and hot dogs and brought enough for all players, coaches, fans, and the umpires, if they were hungry too.

That earned Sally and me, the honorary team nicknames, “Mama” and “Papa” Lombo, which we have kept to this very day. When I was coaching softball, for every game Sally made Rice Krispies Treats which I brought to the girls for all our softball games, and boys’ baseball team for the away games.) That reminded me of our Medaille Baseball days, so I told the players they could just refer to Sally as “Mama Lombo”, which she loved.

When I first began texting (which is still an adventure for me), I made part of my text signature “Papa Lombo.” A few of my brother umpires started calling me Coach Lombo, because there were times I was umpiring and coaching in the same year, and one of those fellow umpires, a local school principal, just calls me “Lombo” whenever I substitute teach in the building where he is the principal.

As with all of the other titles of which I am referred, I get a huge charge of knowing that I mean/meant something to the people who honor me with those titles of respect and endearment.

And then there is the title (actually two titles) that come from some of the most special people in my life, my children and their children.

There is no greater natural high than being hugged by your kids and grandkids and being called dad, papa (the family one, not the baseball one), or pop, or grandpa, or gramps, at the end of the “Hi” greetings, or the “Bye” departures, and especially after the “I love you” expressions I hear in every conversation had with all of them.

Going back to the beginning of this narrative, I fathered, at times (still do sometimes), much like a deer in the headlights, like someone who had no sense of direction, feeling like I had no answers to the important questions, feeling like all my advice was bad advice. I often felt like I lacked the patience and understanding to do the job right, but yet, I still get the title, the term of endearment, the respect, and the love that the words dad, pop, grandpa, and/orgGramps carry with them.

So today, I say to you Jon, though your little girl won’t make her entrance into this world for a week or so, and you won’t hear the title for a little while, you are her father now, and you will soon feel the rush of your little girl saying “dada” or “daddy” for the first time, and you will know what I am talking about today.

To all of you who respected me with all the terms of respect and endearment, I say, “Thank you” for your kindness and respect. To my children and grandchildren, I say “Thank you” and “I love you” for making me so very proud to be a Papa.

To my Pop, Joe X., father-in-law Earl, to you Jon, to Jeff, Richard, Joshua, to my brothers, brothers-in-law, and all the other papas, fathers, and dads etc., still with us or up above, I wish a Happy Father’s Day one and all.

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