I can’t believe it , but we are nearing Fathers Day, 2017. Just about one half of this year is gone; can anyone tell me how that happened? I must not have been paying attention!
I know Rob and I have spoken about Dad in many of our posts, but today, I would like to dedicate this one to him and him alone.
He was a paradox in many ways. He could be hard as steel and soft as butter. One did not want him as an enemy, but his friendship was loyal to the end.
He worked so hard to provide for his little family, at times working three jobs at a time to ensure we had the necessities. In present day , he may have been considered chauvinistic, in that he would not consider allowing Mom to work. He wanted her home, watching his two sons while he did whatever it took to provide. Chauvinistic? I think not. He just had a very “old school ” idea of what a man is and how he provided for his family. No one respected Mom ( and all women, for that matter) any more than Dad. There would be hell to pay if anyone, including his kids, dared show Mom disrespect .
I remember once ( note, once) giving her a disrespectful answer to a question she asked me about school. A backhand to the mouth insured that would never happen again. Primitive parenting? You are allowed your opinion, but in my thought process, that kind of consequence is not necessarily a bad thing.
Dad was adamant about making sure one did “the right thing”. Now, the right thing in his family was what he said the right thing was. What went on in other families was their business. He would shake his head and verbally wonder why those people were not doing the “right thing”.
Some of Dad’s right things:
Family first: you took care of family.
If you were going out to a restaurant, no matter the status of that establishment, you would “dress-up”.
Always dapper and clean, he demanded the same of us. Sloppiness was considered unacceptable.
Respect; you had to show respect to your elders , teachers and anyone else in authority.
Lack of respect for a parent or other family member was met with quick and effective responses.
Manners: you would say please and thank you. You would write thank you notes for gifts. You would sit properly at the table. You would pay attention when spoken to. You would give a response when asked… other than that, simply listening was the more prudent action.
You always held the door for a lady, you made sure to walk on the “street side” of the sidewalk when walking with a lady and you stood up when a lady came to the table.
There was more, but that’s a pretty decent sampling.
Dad was a Marine, and the saying “once a Marine, always a Marine” could not be more true than when speaking of Dad. He was a member of the Greatest Generation and fought that horrible war in the Pacific.We never heard too much about what he experienced, but it was at his funeral that we found out he had saved the life of a fellow Marine. It really didn’t surprise us, because, well, that was Dad….that’s who he was.
I remember a time when he was older and frail walking around his beloved city of New York. He always wore a red United States Marines baseball cap. One day he was passing two young marines in uniform on the Seventh Ave. He looked at them and smiled and said “Hey Marines”. They looked back and noticed his age and hat…. and they saluted him. I don’t believe I have ever seen such a look of pride and happiness on anyone’s face. That salute meant the world to him. He never forgot that moment.
The Marine mindset never left him. He could be stubborn and very opinionated…., but, need help? He was the first on the scene. He loved to see his kids happy, even though he had a hard time expressing it. Robert has shared some moving stories of how he would go to any movie or listen to any music because it was important to his boys. A product of the Big Band era, Dad was able to appreciate the music of the Beatles and the Four Seasons and others , not because it was his music , but because it was “his boys” music.
Undoubtedly, there were moments when he was simply impossible and, as younger guys, we would get frustrated and angry. However, today that is of course gone and we look back with pride at the man he was.
When Rob and I talk today, which is far too infrequent, there is little doubt that a “Dad” story , event or famous saying will come up. One can sit for hours over a glass or two of good whiskey and laugh and cry at the countless Dad stories that are out there. Some have become legendary in our family and perhaps one of us will relay a few of them in a future post.
Speaking of having a drink or two; each and every time Dad would have a glass of wine or a Scotch and water , he would offer the Italian toast of ” Cent’anni”!!! It means may you live 100 years. Dad made over 80 well lived years before proceeding us to the banquet table in heaven. I’m sure he is watching out for “his boys” and enjoying the eternal company of his beloved wife and our Mom.
In closing, I’m going to post the lyrics to a song that became somewhat popular when we were kids. It’s by a guy by the name of Paul Peterson. Some of you will know the song immediately, as well as the TV show he starred in…., others will have no clue. But the lyrics sum up our Dad. The title of the song is simply..
He isn’t much in the eyes of the world; He’ll never make history.
No, he isn’t much in the eyes of the world, But he is the world to me.
My dad, now here is a man.
To me he is ev’rything strong; no he can’t do wrong, my dad.
My dad, now he understands when I bring him troubles to share;
Oh, he’s always there, my dad.
When I was small I felt ten feet tall.
When I walked by his side
And ev’ry one would say, “that’s his son, ”
and my heart would burst with pride.
My dad, oh, I love him so,
And I only hope that some day my own son will say,
“My dad, now here is a man.”
My dad, now here is a man.