Father's Day, 1999

When I was a kid I didn't think too much about how GREAT my Dad was. But then I don't think that's unusual for a kid. Looking back I can tell you that my Dad was the Dad every kid wanted. He was a good-natured, hard-working man with a great sense of humor, never cruel, always there when any of us needed him.

I remember with great fondness how he showed me how to make my bed up like they did in the army..... you had to be able to bounce a quarter on it or the sheets went tucked in tight enough :-) I remember how he always left something in his lunchbox for the first kid to claim it.... "I GET THE LUNCHBOX" was a signal Dad was home... I remember him putting iodine on my scraped knee and blowing on it and saying it stings because it is killing the germs.... I remember sitting on his lap after having a nightmare and having him tell me this funny story about how one night when he was a kid he saw something at the end of his bed and he picked up his baseball bat by the side of the bed and whacked it and it turned out to be his own feet sticking up under the covers... I used to wonder if that REALLY happened or if he was just trying to make me giggle... I never asked him.

When I look back using my grown-up eyes, I have to believe my Dad is the bravest man I know. In 1953 there was a recession here and my Dad was laid off his job. He didn't work for 9 months. Here he was with a Wife and 7 kids, with another one on the way... how scared he must have been knowing he had all these kids depending on him to keep them fed, warm, and clothed.... I can't even imagine how I would feel if that happened to me! Somehow they managed... I remember government food and not getting much for Christmas, but I don't remember ever feeling deprived.

My Dad loved broadway shows and music, fishing, taking rides out in the country, and talking about when he was a kid. I guess he passed that on to me.

I am just back from visiting him and my Mother this evening. I looked at him standing in the kitchen, hunched over, drooling, spaghetti sauce all over the front of his shirt. His hands quivering as he tried to balance himself, so skinny he looks like a survivor of the holocaust. He is nearly deaf and you can't tell when you talk to him if he can't hear you or if he just isn't comprehending what you are saying. I smiled and said "Hi Dad, whatcha doin?" and he said something, but I can't tell you what. His face with it's mask-like look.... classic symptom of Parkinson's Disease. I looked at him and thought to myself how sad it makes me to see him drifting away from us, a little at a time, until finally there will be nothing there but the memory. A good memory though.....of my hero... my Dad. I love you Dad.