A Tribute to My Dad: Donald A Martelli

Photo Feb 28 8 34 11 AMOn February 26, 2012, I lost my father, Donald A. Martelli due to surgery complications and some additional health issues he was dealing with off and on for 10+ years. It's taken me some time to muster up the courage to write this post, but I wanted to get what was in my head down on paper, so to speak, before I lose these fresh memories.

Since that fateful day, I've shed many, many tears. Just when I thought I was dried out, the watershed continues. I loved him so much and he was such a rock for our family that the hole he has left will never be filled. Ever.

He loved his wife, my step-mom, his step kids and of course my brother and I very much. He also enjoyed and loved his grandkids. He was their Pa Nonno.

Having to tell my family that dad had passed was very difficult. It was a shock that still is vibrating throughout family.

The wake was a terrible thing to experience, but at the same time, helpful with the healing process. There were so many people -- hundreds -- that filed through and gave their condolences. There wasn't a dry eye in the house. My brother and I said that our entire lives filed through the room that night, which was absolutely true. People from our childhood, from my dad's childhood, family, extended family, friends, co-workers, etc. It was truly amazing.

Person after person thanked my brother and I for sharing dad in their lives and commended dad for the job he and ma did in raising us -- two kids from Cambridge who have grown up to raise families of their own in the way dad did -- hard work, dedication and humor.

Dad was always telling jokes. He had one for every situation and was often the center of attention when people gathered.

If he wasn't telling jokes, he was playing music. Dad played in various bands starting with his oldest brother when they were just kids. He always wanted to be a rock star and in fact, did fairly well in that regard, playing the New England Circuit with his band Dillinger (and others) over the years. As he got older, dad continued to play, especially for his grandkids. Every time we go together, the kids would say, "Pa Nonno, play your guitar." And dad, being the rock start that he was, had no hesitation to grab his acoustic and start playing songs like, "She'll be coming around the mountain" for the kids. He'd also play Beatles classics and many others from the 60s and 70s -- mostly rock and roll tunes that sounded better than the originals sometimes.

Since Sunday, I've connected with many of the people in dads life and feel responsible for keeping those connections so the memory of my father continues for years to come. I've determined to pick up guitar playing and learn some of the songs that dad played, if not all of them. I've always been musically inclined, a trait for the Martelli family, but I play the trumpet, not the strings. That's going to change.

Other than that, I hope to live my life as my dad did -- modest, caring, helpful, loving and most of all, with humor. During the eulogy, I splashed in a slew of memories of my dad that were funny and it helped get me through it. It was the most difficult thing I've ever had to do. But I sucked it up and got it done. I'm so thankful that my brother was there with me to get me through it. If he wasn't there, I wouldn't have been able to get through the speech.

The other thing that has helped me get through this past week was sharing memories over the phone and online about my dad. In fact, I created the Donald A. Martelli memorial page Facebook page that showcases the man he was and why my brother and I looked up to him so much. He was an influence to many -- more so than I ever thought until I heard all the stories this week. It was truly awe inspiring. It's going to be hard to live up to, but I'm going to try my best to do so.

While my heart continues to ache and the void he left will never be filled, I'm going to take it one day at a time. Hopefully the pain of his passing will subside and the happy memories will bubble up to the top. I'm sure there will be little reminders of him everywhere -- Bruins games, music, jokes, people, etc. He'll be everywhere, but mostly in the hearts of the people that he touched over the years.

He was a great man. An awesome father. A loving Pa Nonno. He was just an awesome man that will be sorely missed by many.

It's hard to believe that he's gone and I just want to pick up the phone and hear his voice one more time. It hurts to know that he won't pick up. Hurts to know he won't be there for big moments in my or my family's lives. It hurts to know that he won't be there when I have a question about something. It hurts to know that his smile and great laugh won't fill up a room anymore. It hurts to know that I no longer have a father on this Earth and that he only lives in videos and photos I have gathered over the years.

Mostly, it just hurts that he's gone.

I love you dad. I and hundreds of others are going to miss you terribly. I'm proud to have called myself your son and I hope someday I will be the man you were and make you proud.

See you on the other side.