• 81°

Mark Conforti: A Different Father’s Day

Father’s Day will be completely different for me.

Once an excuse to celebrate my dad, the annual day eventually gave way to my children creating cards and gifts for me. In recent years, the balance of being both son and father deeply satisfied my soul. What more could a guy want on Father’s Day than to tell his old man “Thank you, and I love you” only to turn around and hear these same sentiments echoed by his own kids?

But Father’s Day will be completely different for me, because my father died four months ago.

It was the most surprising and unexpected phone call of my life: 9:25 am, on an otherwise ordinary Wednesday in the church office. “NO! NO!” I screamed. My father had been battling bronchitis, but he was in remarkable shape. Energy and enthusiasm exuded from every fiber of his being. His name, Vito Conforti, Italian for “life with strength,” captured well his faith in God, devotion to my mother, and passion for his family. Of course I was not anticipating the phone call.

My wife, brother, and I immediately drove from Salisbury to our parents’ house in Huntersville. Upon arrival, after spending tearful moments with Mom, I felt drawn to the bedroom where Dad drew his last breath. There, beside his bed, lay Dad’s new slippers. Mom just bought him this pair — a Christmas present from a mail order catalog. Durable, rubber soles, with a fuzzy, cozy lining. And there they sat. Taking off those slippers must have been the last thing he did before falling asleep, and eventually drifting into the everlasting arms of God.

Over the past several months, Mom has given some of Dad’s personal items to my siblings and me. Receiving these treasures (his college class ring, neckties, and even these slippers) has stirred up for me mixed emotions. While I am touched to have these mementos, they also remind me of my new painful reality: I will never have my Dad on Father’s Day again.

So I hold on to my memories with a rock climber’s grip. I will never forget him saying, “Love ya’, Marky!” or “I’m so proud of you.” Nor will I forget his smile, his laugh, his way with people.

My mother and grandmother planted seeds of faith in my soul. Yet it was my father who cultivated and harvested the fruit. He did this by way of his strongest spiritual gift – encouragement.

Dad always found ways to encourage whoever was around him, including people he had just met. With a fervor surpassed only by his oversized heart, Dad would look a person squarely in the eyes, and say just what she or he needed to hear. Dad recognized an essential spiritual truth: when we encourage other people, we actively connect them with God’s work in their life.

Vito Conforti, my father, did this for me and a countless number of people. I pray that my life and ministry, in turn, brings the encouragement of God’s loving presence.

I may not ever fill my Dad’s shoes. But I will start by wearing his slippers.


The Rev. Dr. Mark Conforti is Senior Pastor at First United Methodist Church of Salisbury. You can reach him at mark@fumcsalisbury.org


About Post Lifestyles

Visit us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SalPostLifestyle/ and Twitter @postlifestlyes for more content

email author More by Post



Former North Carolina Gov. McCrory enters US Senate race


Salisbury woman arrested in Myrtle Beach for abducting child


County updates health director job description, will advertise for position

High School

High school tennis: East beats Carson, still hopes to share NPC title


Board of Elections to purchase upgraded voting equipment using federal grant


Kyle Seager drives in winning run in first game as Mariners split doubleheader with Orioles


City exhausts this year’s funds for Innes Street Improvements, Municipal Services District grant programs


Landis adopts amendments to Zoning Ordinance related to signs, Planning Board terms


Cop, police chief resign 2 days after Black motorist’s death


Expert says cop was justified in pinning down George Floyd


Blotter: April 13


County switches vaccines for Livingstone clinic after federal, state guidance


US recommends ‘pause’ for J&J vaccine over clot reports


Superintendent talks first 100 days, dives into district data


‘It was an answer to a call:’ TenderHearted Home Care celebrates 10 years of providing care at home


Political Notebook: Local polls find increasing number of North Carolinians want COVID-19 vaccine


Trial begins on challenge to latest NC voter ID law


Burch, Fisher, Marsh honored as 2021 recipients of Elizabeth Duncan Koontz Humanitarian Award


Landis board talks revenues, budget planning, department updates


College baseball: Catawba rolls 7-1 and 24-1


Student fires at officers at Tennessee school, is killed


Police: Minnesota officer meant to draw Taser, not handgun


Man receives consecutive prison sentences for sex offenses


RSS Board of Education approves Faith Elementary sale