a man and a boy standing in front of a house
My dad, Kevin, before an All-Star baseball game.

Editor’s Note: A 5:45 a.m. alarm meant it was time for my dad to get ready for work. It was part of his routine for some 27 years before he retired from his maintenance job at a college located in Western New York. He did what he had to do to help his family, and it’s something he learned from his mother (my grandmother) who was left caring for a house full of kids. 

My life story started at 11 years old. My dad wasn’t in the picture any more. My mom had six kids and had to raise them all without a father. That was in the 1970s.

The early years were a bit of a struggle, but we got through it. 

Then she met a guy by the name of Stu in 1974. He was that father figure in my life. I got to see what my own father couldn’t give me and provide me. He couldn’t replace our true father but we needed somebody.

I was No. 2 among the boys; Tommy, myself, Mike and Bryan. (He also had two older sisters in Maureen and Ann).

I got out of high school and went straight to work, and that’s where I was. I wasn’t going to be college material. I was going to get out there and show them I was worth having and dedicated.

I started at a grocery store called the Food Barn (that’s where I met your mom). I then worked at a pallet company, then a transformer company. Then SUNY Fredonia hired me. 

It was get up every day and go do a job, and that was my whole thing was being responsible.

To think about my life moving on through the years, meeting your mom and wanting to have a family. … They (the Goldens) had a family. They had grandpa, grandma. You look at something you didn’t have when you’re growing up that was missing.

Sports were rather big in the house during my early years. I was too young to remember the four falls of the Buffalo Bills in the 1990s. But I can still hear my dad screaming at the television when those boneheaded Bills made a stupid play or when the referee missed a blatant call. When football wasn’t on the TV, my dad and I would take to our favorite recliners to watch the NASCAR race. He was a Jeff Gordon fan. I rode with Bobby Labonte. 

He also enjoyed watching my brothers and I play sports, from our days playing T-ball to our years playing soccer, baseball and lacrosse at the high-school level. He also coached my Little League All-Star team. It’s something his stepfather, Stu, would have been proud of, having coached high school ball for nearly 30 years and captured 15 division titles with the Dunkirk Marauders. 

I enjoyed watching you playing Little League and watching you do what you did to succeed at every level. You guys played soccer and all three of you were good. I was proud you guys stuck with it and did good. For me, I didn’t have that, so I was glad you guys did. 

I was good at hitting, so I played midget football. I wasn’t a jock so I didn’t continue with sports at the high-school level. 

My dad was one to hold onto things. Some of it can be found in the basement where I grew up. 

I still have those mementos, the school projects and all of that stuff … even the little things you guys made out of clay. That part of you all growing up, I’ve got a piece of that. 

More than anything, my dad is proud to see what his three boys, two now dads, have become. 

Seeing you all graduate and get degrees, what father could be prouder getting jobs and taking the next step in life.

Jim McCarthy
Jim McCarthy is one of the many who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures in Western New York. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since he graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 5-plus years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. Jim is past president of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club. When he's not working, he's busy chasing his son, Lucas, around the house and enjoying time with family.