You see, he was a part of what some call the Greatest Generation. To me that describes a generation of fathers who did few if any of the chirpy activities portrayed in these cards. All surely admirable activities, like taking their children to ball games, picnics, camping trips, and Disneyland; yet all from, more than actually of the parent.
During those years of the Great Depression and World War II, Dad had neither the time nor the money to share with me what today’s fathers can so often provide. Times were hard and money was scarce. So even though he had scratched his way up from Chicago’s Italian immigrant neighborhood to owning a business of his own, there was little opportunity for life’s frills when only its facts counted.
So what I remember and what I received from him had neither pizzazz nor price tag to it. Rather, I’d call it a catch-as-catch-can medley of moments. His touch or his glance or his tears somehow told me in that precise place and at that precise moment I was his entire world. What I felt or feared or needed seemed his one consummate concern.
Now let me be clear. Dad couldn’t even spell some of these words; I use them to try plucking from out of the ether of time, just what those brief moments together meant to me. Funny thing, I never exactly realized what I was realizing at the time. Like the times he would patiently listen to me recite my class reports, even though he didn’t quite understand the content…or the time he saw me cry at a wake, and explained it took courage to cry…or the time when he mended my broken high school heart by sharing the pieces of his own from long ago.
How remarkable how we miss life’s moments while we live them. Seems we have to step back — either in space or in time — to see them whole. There is something tragic about that, but then there is something magnificently tragic about life itself. Born without request, die without permission, yet filled with so many little and large joys.
My Father was perhaps my largest. I hope you know that, Dad…….
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