On December 24th, my dad would have turned 92, but he died two weeks after he turned 84. He never met any of my wild, rambunctious extended family – all my children’s spouses, seven of my eight grandchildren, or my dear husband, but if he had he would have been deliriously happy for me.
Family meant everything to my dad.
He loved his siblings, those alive and dead, and he adored his parents, speaking of them with the greatest of respect, but we, his own family, he put above everyone and anything else.
We were lucky to have such a good man as our father. Not everyone can say that.
Oh, he was strict and stubborn and opinionated. He was Old World old-fashioned. Letting his daughters out into the modern world frightened him and we gave him plenty of reason to worry, but there was never any doubt how much we loved each other.
He had this wonderful knack of treating us like ladies (Ladylike traits were not valued in the late 60’s and early 70’s. It was the era of Free Love and the start of feminism.), and though we protested his admonitions, we loved the attention.
He taught me to waltz, first by carrying me in his arms when I was little, later by placing my tiny feet on his shoes when I was in grade school. On holidays, he would play records on his stereo, and after waltzing with my mother (who would bat at him with a dish towel and go back to fixing lunch), my sisters and I would like up in hopes he would ask us to dance.
He tucked us into bed at night when we were tiny. It wasn’t an ordinary tuck and run. He would visit with each of us and tell us stories or sing to us. He would cover us up, asking if we wanted to be wrapped like a taco or an enchilada, then he would kiss us on the forehead and bless us. He would do the extended Sign of the Cross, the one where you do the sign of the cross four times – once on the forehead, the second over the mouth, the third across the chest, and the fourth – a large cross from forehead to chest. He would wish us a good night, turn off the lights, and leave us safe and smiling in the dark.
When we got older, he would bless us before we retired for bed or when we left the house, but eventually, we got modern. And it stopped.
All our lives, he had a wonderful knack of making each of us, sons and daughters, feel as if we were THE special one. Ask any one of us, and we each will swear we were Daddy’s Favorite.
HoneyBunch and my dad missed meeting each other by months, but they would have liked each other immensely. They are so much alike – intelligent, gentlemanly, well-spoken jokesters. They are both fierce, family men.
I love you, Daddy. I was so blessed to have you as my father. You are always in my heart.