This past Sunday was Father’s Day and I didn’t think of my dad for even one moment. Though it’s true that it was a busy day – I had relatives visiting and we attended a baseball game – that neither justifies it nor explains it. I don’t understand why, but I rarely think of him, while I remember my mother often.
My father was a kind and gentle man. People who knew him when he was a young man described him as sort of wild, but that is not the man that I knew. He was 42 when I, the 5th of six children, was born – so I suppose my Mother and time had mellowed him.
By any measure he was a wonderful father. He was of a generation whose men were uncomfortable expressing feelings. I honestly cannot recall ever hearing him say “I love you.” to any of us kids. His way of showing affection to us was by pats on the back and mussing of our hair. Even signs of affection between him and our mother were rare. I can recall him sometimes coming up to her from behind while she was engaged in household chores, putting his arms around her and giving her a peck on the cheek. She would always respond as if she were annoyed: “For Lord’s sake, Sam, not in front of the children!” And he would laugh. Now, we ‘children’ sort of suspected that she was not always so dismissive. Particularly when we were old enough to know that we had not come upon the scene as a result of a mere handshake!
My father expressed his love in other ways. He was very interested in what was happening in our lives. He wanted to know all about our activities in school and play with our friends, the books we were reading and the movies we saw – and he really listened to us. Our mom often seemed to busy. He never missed an opportunity to praise us and let us know how proud he was of us when we did something well. If we misbehaved he would chew us out, but he never punished us physically.
His job was one in which he received tips, with which he provided for all of his personal needs. I can recall every night when he came home from work he would tell my mother how much he made in tips and give her a portion. He would say something like : “I only got seven dollars today, Sunshine. I can only give you three.” He always called her Sunshine. She often called him Maggie, especially when she was in a good mood. He did so many household chores that she called him Maggie, the maid. One thing he never did around the house was cook. If you locked him in a room with thousands of canned goods and a can opener he would starve!
He never opened his pay envelope – on Friday paydays he just handed it over to my mother who handled all the family finances. He provided for much more than his personal needs from his tips. He gave us kids our weekly allowances. He also paid for all the boys’ haircuts. We all loved getting a haircut because in addition to the cost of the haircut and the barber’s tip he would give us a quarter. That may not seem like much nowadays, but back in the 1940s and 1950’s a kid could buy five candy bars with that quarter! And almost every night he came home with a bag of penny candy for us kids. On the rare day he didn’t we were devastated!
He was an avid baseball fan and took us boys to games as often as he could. My mother and sister had no interest in baseball, so he would always give them each the amount of money he would have spent on them if they had gone to the game. He didn’t want them to feel left out.
There are many more things I could mention to show what a great dad he was, but this is a blog post not a book. Plus, this is becoming kind of difficult for me to write about.
I just can’t understand why I so rarely think of this wonderful man who I was so fortunate to have as a father?