It's Father's Day today and I don't have to think much about my Dad before I start smiling. He died nearly 40 years ago, yet I can still hear his voice. In my mind's eye, I see him doing a Jimmy Durante impression (Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are!) or letting me snuggle up next to him in his old “easy chair” as we watched scary movies while my Mom was at work. He was a clown … always the life of the party … the New Year's Eve baby … the guy who made everyone laugh.
I called him Daddy when I was little, Dad as I got older and Papa when I went to college and became oh, so sophisticated. When ancient, parsimonious Uncle Louis, the patriarch of our family, admonished my Dad that he was wasting money educating a “girl”, my Dad ignored him. I went to a private Catholic women's college at great expense to my family. Dad had a 6th grade education … leaving school to work, as so many kids did in those Depression days. He was street smart and a fast learner and he was intent that both his daughters would be educated.
He worked as a laborer in a steel mill … hard work and a hard worker. Sometimes he worked three jobs to make ends meet, but I don't ever remember him complaining.
I was definitely a “Daddy's girl” and unabashedly used that to my advantage, as daughters often do. He was proud of me and worried sometimes that I was ashamed of him. We never talked about that too much, but I sensed it. How could he ever have thought I would be anything less than proud of him? My eyes fill with tears just thinking about it.
He was likeable and loveable and I'm sorry that David and our sons never got the chance to meet him. He died of a heart attack at age 51, two weeks before Brennan was born. He left suddenly, without saying goodbye. I talk to him still and I'm convinced he listens.
So whether we call you Dad, Daddy, Da, Pa, Papa, Vater, Pere or you're a son, uncle, brother, cousin or close friend who serves as the paternal influence and male mentor in the family … relax … enjoy yourself. Happy Father's Day … and thanks.
P.S. - My sister, Lin, added her definition of "Daddying” ... It's going on kiddy rides, playing at the beach, shoveling snow, and being both a father and a child.