When you grow up in Syracuse, NY, you go to the Dome. A LOT. It’s no secret Syracuse people, born here or who go to school at Syracuse University, bleed orange. We love Syracuse sports (all of them, men’s and women’s teams!). We gather together at home or Tully’s or other sports bars to watch away games, and we go to the Dome in droves, sometimes over 30,000 of us will be in there for a game. That makes the Carrier Dome likely the largest community gathering space in our small city.
I grew up going to basketball games, my first loves being the best of all time, The Pearl, and of course, General Sherman Douglas. In recent years, my Dad and I cheered hard for Tyler Ennis and Dion Waiters, and this season we love(d) Battle and Hughes. Battle was my Dad’s guy and Hughes was mine, and before each game we would say “Who’s guy is going to be better tonight?” and place a small bet, just a dime, on who would score more or other goofy things to keep making the games fun for us.
This was a different year for my family. My father had never been sick before in his entire life. Never missed a day of work, never had surgery or had to go to the hospital. When he turned 79 over the summer he said for the first time in his life “it’s so weird, I am actually starting to feel old”. I just thought that would be normal becuase if you know my Dad he NEVER slowed down, tending to his great garden (Coach P was a neighbor and would always talk to my Dad when he saw him in the garden), mowing, going places, cooking, you name it. So after 79 years of being non-stop, I figured it was time for him to slow down a bit.
In August Dad went to the ER in the middle of the night with a serious sepsis infection caused by a bile duct obstruction. It was scary. I thought for sure we would lose him. The guy was tough, and he made it through it, though certainly weaker than he had ever been before his hospital stay. He just didn’t get better. I took him to every doctor’s appointment, was a fierce advocate for his healthcare, did a lot of yelling and screaming at times to get answers, and once we did, December 28, 2018, it was the worst possible news in the history of worst possible news. Stage 4 metastatic pancreatic cancer.
We immediately went to Hematology Oncology Associates, who did everything they could. We ended up in the hopsital again. Everything went much faster than expected, and after several nights sleeping in a recliner next to my father in the hospital, he passed away peacefully.
I’m the kind of person who could tell you I have 15 best friends. I love all of them, but they all knew deep down that there was one person who was my ultimate best friend. My Dad and I were more than just a fantastic father/daughter duo. We LOVED hanging out, doing whatever, painting walls and moving furniture at my house, going exploring, making salsa and sauce and growing vegetables. He was with me when I got my first cat Clark Kent, and he was with me when we had to put him down 17 years later. He never refused a favor to me at any time in life, not once ever. He came to every soccer and lacrosse game.
There are 5 “love languages” according to Gary Chapman, and my #1 is “acts of service”. He showed his love for me through helping me with the lawn, cleaning gutters, and making me tea when my throat was sore. I sound a little spoiled when I write this, but I assure you, it was a mutual relationship, and I did everything I could for him too.
So back to the Dome. At the end of 2018, I was contacted by Hendrick’s Chapel to lead candlelight Yoga in the Carrier Dome. I immediatley called my Dad: “Dad, guess what? I am going to teach Yoga in the Carrier Dome! I am so excited!!!” and he told me how excited he was and that he hoped he could come.
I didn’t know how it was going to play out and if I was going to be able to teach at the Dome with all that was happening with my family. Once my Dad passed I knew I had to be there and dedicate the class to him, for all the games, all the goofy bets, all the time spent watching SU sports and time spent in the Carrier Dome together. I have to tell you, it was remarkable. We also dedicated the class to a Syracuse University student who had recently passed away, Brianna Herrara. The energy and outpouring of love in the Dome, from 200 people who showed up to connect with each other, was absolutely beautiful.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who came to this wonderful event. I hope to see you on the Yoga mat sometime soon again. Thanks to Hendrick’s Chapel, your message to the Community, being an all inclusive safe space, is the same as Syracuse Yoga’s message. Yoga for Everybody, Yoga for EveryBODY!
Thank you Dad, you will always be my #1. I know you were smiling down on all of us, I could feel you there.