Thursday, May 31, 2012

An Ode To My Father

My dad passed away February 1, 2006, and this time of year always brings up a ton of memories. First, because his birthday was May 26. Second, because Father’s Day is coming up, and third, because he was in the military, and though he wasn’t lost in battle Memorial Day always held such a reverent place in our household.

Last year, I wrote An Ode To My Mom on Mother’s Day. Some of you have wondered about the other half of my parentage, especially given that I don't really look like my mom. :)

I've already written a post about my dad called, "Words To Love By," but I thought it might be fun to revive the idea of my mom's post to introduce you more deeply to my dad.

75 Facts About My Dad

1.         I gave my dad the nickname, Pappy, long, long ago. He signed off letters, cards and emails that way to me until the day he died.

2.         He was definitely the #1 Member of the Erin Cronican Fan Club.

3.         He retired from the Air Force as a full Colonel after 25.5 years of service.

4.         He hair turned fully grey in his late 20s. I never knew him with his naturally dark hair.

5.         He was 6’2”, but he always described himself as 5’14”.

6.         He thought he was really funny. (See #5)

7.         He used to pull up to stop lights pulsing the brakes of the car to the beat of the music.

8.         His favorite singer/artist was Rod Stewart.

9.         Every time I would call home and he’d pick up the phone, I’d say, “Hi, it’s me,” and he’d exclaim, “Hello, Me!”

10.         For breakfast, he loved sunny side up eggs with ketchup, and he would use a spoon to scoop out the contents of the yolk in little, bitty segments. I think he loved to savor it.

11.         My dad worked at NATO in Belgium, as well as NORAD within Cheyenne Mountain (think: War Games)

12.         Every Father’s Day for about the last 10 years of his life, I took him on a Father-Daughter trip to see a San Diego Padres game.

13.         Each time we went to a game, he’d point at the advertisements for Carvel ice cream and say, “Do you know where that’s from?”

14.         Carvel originated in Yonkers, NY - where he was born.

15.         My father and I never got a chance to be in New York together. I moved here in August 2005; he died 6 months later.

16.         He once severely injured himself by jumping over the net on a tennis court.

17.         Before a car accident injured his back, he used to be an amazing (perhaps pro-level) golfer.

18.         He owned a fountain pen and liked to write in a sort of calligraphy.

19.         He fancied himself the master of other languages, including German, French and Spanish. He would often try to talk to us in these languages and invariably mix up which language he was speaking mid-sentence, which always cracked us up.

20.         After each member of the family had a dog to call their own, he finally got his own dog: a pocket sized poodle** named Molly, who was the sole litter from our dogs Roger and Rosie. She was a surprise litter, so he nicknamed her "Spuppers" (short for surprise puppy.)

21.         **This is funny because he always talked about wanting to have a “man’s” dog, like a German Shepherd.

22.         I taught him the wonders of the Kahlua and Cream cocktail.

23.         He absolutely loved sitting outdoors after work, watching the sunset over the valley.

24.         Every night he made gin martinis with lemon peel, which he would peel off in small sections with a special little tool. I don’t remember him ever using the lemons, only the peel.

25.         He used to always say, “No one can ever embarrass you. You can only embarrass yourself.” He would normally say this after doing something really embarrassing.

26.        My father and I shared a very similar, corny sense of humor, with lots of innuendo and word play.
Let's not talk about the overalls. 
27.         I don’t think he missed a single performance I had, until I moved to NYC. This includes a cabaret at a gay piano bar in San Diego. You've never seen a father's face turn so red. 

28.         His favorite sports team was the Redskins. Yankees were second. Chargers & Padres tied for third.

29.         He, somehow and wonderfully, loved the “Les Mis” and “Phantom of the Opera” Broadway Cast Albums.

30.         He loved, loved, loved creamy food - ice cream, sour cream, cream cheese, cream sauces, etc.

31.         He had really pale skin with bright pink overtones, like me.

32.         He held two degrees - in engineering and business administration.

33.         He was a die-hard PC fan, and constantly poked fun at me for being a die-hard Mac user.

34.         Unlike other parents who wanted their kids to be doctors or lawyers, he always wanted me to be in sales.

35.         After visiting home, my dad would walk me to my car and stand in the driveway watching me until I drove away. That was my last memory of him alive (December 30, 2005.)

36.         He had this funny way of standing, with his legs spread more than shoulder width apart and his arms crossed - my guess being that it helped him with back pain.

37.         When I was in high school, my family went to an old movie set/tourist attraction called Old Tucson in Arizona. My mom, dad and I decided to get an "Old West" portrait taken where we got dressed up. You can totally see our personalities in the photo. 

Dad (gregarious), Mom (hates having her photo taken), Erin (melodramatic actor)
38.         When he died, we got an outpouring of emails from old colleagues and classmates who described him as a mentor, confidant, and dear friend.

39.         He LOVED Italian food. Especially linguine with butter and garlic.

40.         He was a pretty good tennis player, but he had a terrible temper. McEnroe, eat your heart out.

41.         As far as gift giving, he would always say, “I only want two things: A porsche, and good kids. And since I’m not getting either of those, I don’t need anything.” Ha ha.

42.         He was extremely gregarious and loved to talk to strangers.

43.         He was ultra-conservative, politically. Ultra. Conservative.

44.         Death to anyone who stood in front of the TV when a game was on. “Down in front!” was a common warning.

45.         He would always choose the green playing piece when playing games.

46.         He was a pretty volatile person when he was younger but started to mellow as he aged. Yelling was replaced with a calm, “That is not appropriate,” which kind of made us giggle.

47.         He worked in the field of electronic & information security most of his life, but being adept at common electronics completely eluded him.

48.         He joked that he had a religious typing style - “Seek, and ye shall find.”

49.         He had this huge dictionary with indented tabs for each letter. He also had 3 shelves full of National Geographics. (I wrote most of my school paper on topics that could be found in those, because those were the pre-internet days.)

50.         When decorating the Christmas tree, my mom and brother would hand the ornaments and my father and I would string all of the lights. 

51.         He’d sometimes crack himself up with his own jokes, and his laughing would make his face turn red.

52.         He wore two rings that he never took off - his wedding band and his class ring from Manhattan College. When he died, my mother gave me my dad's class ring and my brother Sean his wedding band. 

53.         He was incredibly independent and, like many men in his generation, refused to talk about his feelings.

54.         Before undergoing triple bypass surgery 2003, he did express one regret: “I wish I had instilled more of a sense of pride in your Irish heritage, like what was shared with me as a child.”

55.         He had the same name as his father (who I never met.)

56.         He really loved telling blonde jokes, probably because neither his wife nor daughter were natural blondes and he knew he could get away with it.

57.         He was opinionated and idealistic, which made his bosses either love him or hate him. I inherited that trait, and I've learned to love it.

58.         The last physical moment we had together was me stroking his hand while on life support. I will never forget how soft his fingers here, yet his hands still felt strong to me.

59.         He gave great hugs.

60.         If he were to come to a show of mine, it was guaranteed by the end of the night that he would have told everyone around him that he was my dad.

61.         After he passed away we went to his office to clean out his desk and take home personal effects. On his wall he’d hung my acting postcard and a promotional card from when I did “The Last Five Years."

This was one of the walls of my dad's cubicle. 

62.         He was really, really smart.

63.         I made him a huge batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies for almost every birthday. He was a Gemini.

64.         He had the ultimate white man’s overbite when dancing.

65.         We went on a weeklong father-daughter trip to Europe after I graduated from college.

66.         His nickname for me was, “The Kid.”

67.         He used to always joke that we all talked so much at the dinner table and he “could never get a word in edgewise. There are foot prints on my tongue.”

68.         He refused to let people touch his hair.

69.         He liked to answer the phone in funny voices when my friends would call.

70.         He took up stamp and coin collecting after his mother passed away and he inherited them. When he died, I asked to take them.

My family's going away party, before moving to NYC.
71.         He used to joke that if I didn’t get my act together, he’d take me out of the will. But it turned out to be a bigger joke than that - because I was never actually in the will to begin with. After he died, we discovered that he rewrote his will when he married my mother, but had not revised it since having children with her. (Oops.)

72.         For my Sweet 16, he bought me Dr Laura’s “Ten Stupid Things Women Do To Mess Up Their Lives.” (See #43.)

73.         He liked to wear short shorts. And they got shorter and shorter the older he got. (I know.)

74.         He would always ask me to be his Valentine.

75.         He was a student of life and incredibly inspirational. After he died, my mother gave me this card that he had written:

I love you, Pappy, and I miss you. Thank you for making me who I am today.

Have a comment or question? Leave it by clicking below!

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has toured nationally with plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. For more information, please visit


  1. Dear Erin,

    Just when I think there's no way I could adore you more than I already do…

    That was incredibly beautiful and I think that our dad's would have liked each other very much.

    I'm off to find some kleenex, now…


  2. Gini-
    Thank you so, so much for your comment! I feel like you and I *might* just be cut from the same cloth. Thank you for sharing with me. :)

  3. Erin, I just read every single one. I love this! Your dad sounds wonderful and you were clearly so special to him. Sending you all my love as you find yourself reflecting on his life. xoxo

  4. Kim-
    Thank you for your kind words, and for taking the time to read (and comment!) on this very long blog post. Much love! :)

  5. Very, very cool. I would hope my daughter could write 7 things about me, lol. But it was a great read. Thank you
    I would add that his note was brilliant. Almost everyone in positions of leadership should "see the other man's view".

  6. Erin, that is am amazing list! I had no idea how much my brother and I had in common; everything from liking creamy stuff to pride in our Irish heritage... Uncle Dick

  7. Erin, What an amazing tribute! As a parent and also as a son, this is such simple yet elegant way of chronicling these totally unique relationships. Sounds like you two had something very special.

    As some one who is still learning to deal with the loss of their own father (my Dad passed away in 2009)it struck a very deep and emotional chord.

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. Erin, This is wonderful and touching. I was never as close to my dad as I would have liked. Now that I have kids of my own, I love it when I hear things like this, from people who had a great relationship with and so obviously loved their father. It makes me think of the impression I have on my kids and how they'll remember me. It makes me want to do everything I can to support them and stay close to them as they begin their adult lives. Thanks for sharing this.

    Nice overalls, by the way. :)

  9. All of these comments really mean a lot to me. Thank you for reading, and sharing your thoughts with us! I'm humbled, I truly am...

  10. Beautiful sentiment. Revealing a love beyond words.

  11. Brings back great memories. Truly a great family man.


Thanks for commenting- YOU ROCK!

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