My father’s name was Joe Basile. He was born in 1946 and passed away in 2014. Even though it’s been almost a decade now, I still miss him nearly every day. Since yesterday was Father’s Day, he’s been on my mind especially. So, I thought I’d take some time to write out some of my memories of him in no particular order.
My dad wasn’t what you’d call a “computer guy,” but he had a genuine love for computers. He never learned how to type with more than two fingers, but he always wanted to have the latest and greatest. He used computers to sell speakers and vintage audio equipment on eBay for years, and the money he made from that helped raise me.
He also used some of that money to ensure that I always had a decent computer. I primarily used it for gaming, but he also knew that it would help me develop better computer skills than he had and perhaps even pave the way for a career. He was right. His encouragement was instrumental in my choice of career, which has drastically affected my life (for the better).
Even though he wasn’t a software engineer, I still think his influence on me has helped me in my career. I credit him with instilling in me a kind of pragmatism that has served me very well.
Dad had a strong affinity for Apple. The first computer he let me use was a Macintosh 512k. I mostly used MacPaint to create doodles, but it was a lot of fun. At one point, I got caught up in the “lol mac sucks” crowd that was common at the time, when I had a Performa of some flavor. However, I eventually came back around and realized their value.
For a while, he made a living by designing and building rack-compatible iPod mounts. I remember him going out and purchasing an iPod (5th generation) just to get the physical measurements for it. Somehow, I ended up carrying that iPod with me wherever I went.
I wish he could’ve lived long enough to see me working for Apple. I know he would’ve been proud, although he was proud of me no matter what.
In contrast to his limited technical knowledge of computers, my dad had an incredible aptitude for anything electrical or mechanical. He could repair almost anything that broke in our house and construct just about anything from apparent scraps of wood.
I vividly recall an incident when I moved into my new house in Austin, which he helped me find. I couldn’t fit a soundbar beneath my TV on the new entertainment center. So, he went to IKEA, bought a $7 end table, took it to Lowe’s, and convinced them to let him use their table saw to cut it to the perfect size. He then assembled a simple shelf that fit perfectly.
My biggest regret is not paying closer attention to him while he worked on these projects. Now that I’m a homeowner, I often wish I possessed half of his ability to fix things around the house.
Dad never quite understood video games. Sometimes, I managed to convince him to give them a try, but whenever I handed him a controller, it was as if something in his brain short-circuited, and he fumbled with it. I particularly remember an instance when I gave him my PlayStation 1 controller with Gran Turismo loaded up. He ended up driving the wrong way on the track, unable to figure out how to turn around, and laughed so hard that tears welled up in his eyes.
Even though he didn’t fully grasp the appeal of video games, he recognized how important they were to me. Before I had my own income, every game I owned was a gift from him, and many of them left a lasting impact on my life.
I still vividly remember driving home with him from Best Buy, clutching my newly acquired copy of EverQuest. He wanted to ensure that it wouldn’t negatively impact my schoolwork, like Ultima Online supposedly did. I promised him it wouldn’t, even though it did, but in the end, I met my wife while playing that game. Before that, it was UO, and Diablo before that. I still have the manual from that copy of Diablo.
We camped out overnight together to secure an Xbox 360 on launch day. It was freezing rain in November in Ohio, and I’m sure he was miserable, but he endured it for my sake. He even went to a nearby Steak ’n Shake to get some hot chocolate to keep us warm.
Throughout my entire life until he passed away, Dad always had a “shop.” It was located in a warehouse in Akron, in one of the Saalfield buildings. I remember thinking the entire building smelled unpleasant, but I cherished the time I spent there with him. He had a computer set up for me to help him ship the items he sold on eBay, and it was my first “real” job, even though much of the time we spent there was just hanging out together, discussing politics, news, technology, or music.
There’s one memory that stands out when I came perilously close to losing a finger there. We were cutting a particle board for a project, and I was feeding it across the table saw towards him. I didn’t have a firm grip on it, and it started tilting towards my face. Instinctively, I pushed it down with my hand, inadvertently guiding it into the saw blade. It came within half an inch of my little finger.
Occasionally, Dad and I embarked on road trips together. Sometimes, it was a “business trip” to a company he worked for in New Jersey. On occasion, we’d make a stop in New York City, which was both exciting and intimidating for a young kid.
He went on a trip out west with my older brother. They visited a few parks in that region, and it sounded incredibly cool. He always wanted to take me along, but time slipped away from both of us, and it never happened.
Dad and I watched countless movies together; there are too many to count. He’d say, “I need a nap, any good movies playing?” and we’d check the showtimes to find something.
While he favored action movies, he would watch almost anything with me. When I was very young, we went to see the first Power Rangers movie at a Loew’s theater that eventually went out of business and was converted into a church. A few years later, we moved into a house (designed by my father) across the street from that theater. My mother still lives in that house.
Even though it was cut short, I count my relationship with my father as one of my greatest blessings.