My Dad passed away 14 years ago and I think about him every day, and especially now as we get close to Father’s Day.
Dad was a stoic man who was not a touchy-feely type. He would not have been cast in a MetLife commercial, giving his son a bear-hug and being misty-eyed as he watched his kids play. He was not in touch with his feminine side. He grew up with a macho Italian sensibility about manhood; his dinnertime conversation consisted of pointing at the dish that he wanted the women in the household to serve to him. The meal would always end with him complaining about how full he was. “I’m bufaad (full belly), he would say, just before he lit up the day’s tenth Pall Mall.
He was tough; he yelled and pointed a finger when he was angry. He watched “Combat” on our small black and white TV and we knew better than to whine about not being able to watch “The Flintstones.” He bowled. He didn’t use flowery language to show his love for us. We would have felt foolish getting him one of those sappy Father’s Day cards – the ones that have “What is a Father?” printed on the front and enough mushy verses for a Longfellow poem inside.
Yet as we grew up and became more mature and independent, we learned to appreciate the depth of Dad’s wordless love. We continue to marvel at it, 14 years after he’s gone.
Here are my 10 favorite times that he proved his love without saying a word.
3. Dad built the world’s best air hockey table for my brother. Dad was never an engineer but he could figure out how to put together anything, especially if somebody he loved wanted it.
5. Dad dropped me off at college at Penn State. I was the oldest and when he said goodbye it was one of only a handful of times I saw him tear up. Over a five-year period he shuttled my sister, my brother and I back and forth to Penn State every fall and spring, a total of eight hours for the round trip, which he always made in one day.
6. When my Mom was still working, Dad helped her entire office set up their computers, a volunteer effort that probably would have cost thousands in fees for paid techies.
8. In my late 30s I smoked for a few years. One day Dad washed and vacuumed out my car and when I got back into it, I found a pack of Newport Lites that I thought had been missing on my front seat. Dad had probably found them under the seat but chose not to lecture me. Nor did he throw them away. After that I knew that he knew.
9. Dad loved picking his own fruit and he and my mom loved taking their kids and grand-kids along with them. He couldn’t wait to share his pickings with family, friends and coworkers. On a hot summer day he’d put the just-picked fruit in cushioned containers leftover from a Harry and David gift, then put it in the air-conditioned part of the car (never the trunk.) The air conditioner kept churning, through traffic and pit stops, all the way home.
11. When I was a single mom my parents lived 20 minutes away. Dad often came over to my house with his toolbox in one hand and with a brown bag holding a loaf of his wonderful homemade bread – which my children called “Pop-Pop Bread” in the other.
[Well this is 11 things, but Dad was a 10-plus! Love you and miss you, Dad!]