Carmine D. Tiso (The OG Carmine) 8.22.26 – 11.25.16

I grew up with parents who were loving, caring, supportive and generous. I owe so much of who I am to them… but there was always something about my grandparents that had me captivated.  I loved their house on Charles Place and the giant oak tree that we would spend hours sitting in front of and talking about life. That entire house smelled older, worn but safe; the aroma of nan’s perfume and hairspray filled the house. But it was pop’s calming voice that always made me feel loved and happy.

Legacy is what every man lives for. Whether it’s fame, fortune, love or the simple fact of leaving behind a name that will carry with it the utmost respect for eternity. Carmine is just that… whether you knew him as Uncle Junior (Sooranos reference), Uncle Carmine, Babe or Pop… Carmine will forever carry with it images of a selfless man who loved his family more than anything else in this world. He was a man who stood up for what he believed in and never told you what you wanted to hear. He told you the truth. He was my Professor Dumbledore even before Harry Potter was published. I learned to value what I hold near and dear to me and that the choices we make are at the heart of who we are.

I still remember the day I told him I was giving up baseball and taking up track… the silence was short… but his words were strong… “Are you crazy?!!” It was hard feeling like you disappointed the man you looked up to, the person who taught you everything you knew about sports. But when he learned how serious I was he supported me more than anyone… that was him. Say what you mean and mean what you say and support those who mean most to you. When he knew you did he believed in you. To him, “words were, in his not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.” He didn’t always say he loved you, but you knew he did.

I had more conversations about the Yankees with him than Mike Francesca had with Chris Russo. I learned how to turn a double play like Phil Rizzutto, I learned how to shoot a jump shot (by the way… I never ever once beat him in around the world), and recently he taught me how to hit my 5 iron. Those are the images that will forever be burned into my mind.

But for me and anyone who knew him it was who he was in the quiet times that made you love him. Whether it was a long time customer who came in to ask his advice on an air conditioner he sold them in 1983, or a granddaughter who couldn’t wait for a plate of pasta on a Tuesday night, he was always there.

He was a Military Veteran, but refused to think of himself equal to others who served out country. He would often tell a story of his cousin who was fighting on the front lines in Germany. He would write home from overseas and tell Pop to be careful and stay safe. Pop, at the time, was playing baseball for the army, traveling up and down the East Coast entertaining the troops… He called it the “Battle of the Hudson!”He would tell this story and with a laugh say, “he’s getting shot at by Nazis and he’s telling me to stay safe… like crossing the Hudson River on a bus for a doubleheader was more dangerous than that!”

When nan passed away… I honestly think I learned what real selflessness was. He went to that cemetery everyday. He planted grass seed (and for everyone who knew him you weren’t surprised that it was the greenest, most well groomed plot of grass in the whole cemetery). He loved her more than he loved anything in this world and he never let anyone forget it. He loved her more than an Eli Manning touchdown pass, more than nan’s potato and egg sandwiches, even more than a Yankee World Series championship… although that was definitely a close second.

I once read a quote that said “today is a new day. God gave us the this day to use as we will. what we do today is important because we are exchanging a day out of our life for it. When tomorrow comes this day will be gone, leaving in its place that which we traded it for. We want it to be good, not evil, gain not loss, success not failure.”

That was pop… if you were to measure a man’s life against that quote… then he won. He was a legend who left behind a legacy of good, gain and success. He leaves behind family, friends, a grandson and great grandson (both who share his name) and both who will forever be better people because of him.

Until we meet again (and I finally get that rematch in around the world)… Rest easy Pop… and tell Nan I love her.

The ones who love us, never really leave us.” -ADumbledore


Life’s Little Wins

Tonight was one of those nights where you sit back and reflect on the million different pieces that have come together to form your life. Life is full of ups and downs, an emotional roller coaster ride that you can’t quite imagine if you’ve spent your time worrying about other people.
With so many things going on in my own life right now it’s hard to take time to worry about others. It’s hard to not think about your place in this gigantic world we live in. Sometimes though it helps to take a step back and realize that we all play a small roll in improving someone else’s life. We all mean something important to someone.

 Today I watched my son enthusiastically walk down the isle of Ryan and Lindsey’s wedding rehearsal. I watched him closely as he held Emma’s hand and realized that Jackson is going to walk down the isle with the little girl (who isn’t so little anymore) that I’ve watched grow up into such an amazing young lady. And that the two of them will help usher in a lifetime of happiness for the Fahys. Today it wasn’t about one particular person or feeling… It as about the bigger picture.

There isn’t much else that makes you feel like living life to the fullest after watching your son and one of your best friend’s daughter hold hands and enjoy life the way it’s supposed to be enjoyed. That is until you get home and read something that gives you goosebumps. Something that makes you realize that you are making a difference in someone’s life… That you have been mentioned in the same sentence, let alone compared to the late principal Dawn Hochsprung, who gave her life for her students at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I am honored to part of something that is bigger than any one individual. Our school represents what Ana represents… Love, kindness and friendship.

I hope my son will grow to be selfless, kind, generous, understanding and loving. But most of all I hope he knows that he is important to someone somewhere and that his presence makes a positive impact on the world.

 “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”  -Buddha



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The Only Thing we Have to Fear is Fear Itself- (Not True)

There was this feeling of dread, like one of those deep pits in your stomach as you take your first few steps into a haunted house. Even if it’s only for a second, its still there. That feeling like you know something is might go wrong, but you just can’t figure out what it is. 
Only I new what was wrong… I knew exactly why I felt that way. I knew I hated the idea and yet knew it was in his best interest. Even still, walking though the door and having to be buzzed in, put me on the other side of the fear that goes through every parent’s mind as they leave their child in the care of someone else. 

My mind slowly began to shift from dad mode to administrative mode… The words flowed from my lips like water from a hose… “What is your security procedure for entering the building?” “Do you practice fire drills and lock down drills.” How often do you check that your doors are locked?” “Are your staff members trained in CPR/First Aid?”  

A reassuring look from the wife told me I needed to take a deep breath and listen to what the woman had to say. Problem is, I didn’t care what she had to say. I could find fault with Mother Theresa if she was sitting across from me explaining how she would care for my child.  

I wasn’t happy with the “curriculum” (he’s one), I didn’t like knowing he had to nap later than he usual does (kids at my school learn to do it without any problem), I was completely enraged when I saw the back door wide open (mistakes happen and become a learning experience). Again, I wasn’t happy because I don’t think I wanted to be happy.  

You’ve heard the horror stories… Kids getting fed mass quantities of NyQuil to shut them up, people picking up the wrong kids, kids being abused… Hell I work in a school named after a student who was tragically killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I know the dangers, I work tirelessly everyday to ensure the safety of the children in my building as if they were my own. 

Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I know too much; I’ve seen too much on my end to allow myself to relax. Then again, I don’t want to think I’ve left any stone unturned when it comes to Jackson.  

Im an educator of young children; I have been my entire life. I have convinced numerous parents the benefits of early childhood education, if not for the academics than simply for the social skills and language development that is gained from being surrounded by peers. I have studied research on the brain and philosophies of how young children learn. I can rattle off the increased background knowledge and character development that students gain from structured social interactions away from their parents. I’ve seen first hand parents who are were just like me before the school year started and convinced them we would take care of their most precious possession in the world. 

Yet still…

That feeling of dread that permeated throughout my entire body that day, only increases as the we creep closer to the possibility of leaving Jackson at a daycare facility. (Even just typing that caused a knot in my stomach). It could be for 1/2 a day once a week… I’m still not sure I’m going to be OK with this. 

Je Suis Charlie?

Where in the parenting handbook is the section for “protecting your child from mass shootings, terrorism, murder and hate?” Maybe the real question I should be asking is why the hell do I ever need a section titled “protecting your child from mass shootings, terrorism, murder and hate?” Either way this is one of those topics that I struggle with.

I remember growing up and watching the news during Operation Desert Storm. I remember writing letters to soldiers when I was in 4th grade. What I don’t remember is fearing for my safety… ever. There’s always been hate in he world, there’s always been hate in everyday life. Society seems to thrive on it… Turn on the news, it’s all that they ever reported on.

The difference is I have a son now. There are horrible people out there and horrible people do horrible things. How do I protect my son from those people and those things? I sometimes think I want to just keep him and Stef by my side 24 hours a day. No school, no mall, no vacations, just us three and the dogs Blast from the Past style (if you don’t get the reference 1. shame on you 2. Wikipedia Brandon Frazier).

I’m pretty sure that 9/11 was a life defining moment in so many peoples lives.  That was our generation’s Pearl Harbor.  I think that was the day that actually changed my mind set on everyday life… my everyday life.  It made me look around more; it made me worry about flying.  Sandy Hook, 45 seconds from where I grew up, where my family and friends live, where people I grew up with work… that was the second defining moment I experienced.  As an elementary school administrator that day made me change the way I think about visitors in the school and mental health issues.

So how does this recent tragedy in Paris change me?  I don’t think it does… I don’t think it makes me say Je suis Charlie.  If I wasn’t already; I’m not now.  But the other thing is… why do I have to be Charlie to denounce the hatred in the world.  Why can’t I be me?  I want to think about how I can better the lives of others, but not worry about what other people are doing.  I want to raise my son to be a loving, caring human being and I don’t want him to worry about being safe when he is out in the world.

Im not sure how to do that though?  How do you raise a child to denounce hatred and terror in a time of hatred and terror without having him actually expierence hatred and terror?  I guess this is another one of those abstract things that you feel your way through each day.