The Old Man - A Father's Day Recollection of my Dad

My father as a teenager in 1916 and as a young man.

My father died July 11, 1972, which was the summer between my junior and senior years in college.  He had not been sick even though he did suffer from a chronic illness, high blood pressure.  Oh, he also had an enlarged prostate.  But for a man of his age, 72, HTN and BPH are almost par for the course.  He was still active, in fact he was still working.  So one July morning he collapsed as he was getting up to go to work.  He never regained consciousness, but died that night.  

My father left a widow and five kids.  The oldest child was a 24 year old young man who was finished with school and working.  Of the four other kids, my twin brother and I were about to start our last year in college.  The next oldest was the only girl, a 17 year old high school student and the last was a 13 year old boy.

My son was born 6 years later, in 1978, so he never got to see my father.  Nick never saw his other grandfather either - my wife’s father died in 1974, he was only 55.  

Grandfathers love their grandchildren in almost all case, but I know that Nick would have been a big hit with my father.  My father loved fishing, which Nick loved when he was a boy.  My father also loved history and was a great story teller.   My son would have enjoyed spending time listening to my father’s rambling stories about what NJ and especially Paterson were like a long time ago.  

Here he is in 1946 at an office Xmas party. 

By the way, see the "Seasons Greetings" - this phrase was not the creation of leftist media.

I wish my father could have seen Nick as a boy scout.  Nick was first a patrol leader and eventually senior patrol leader.  He took his job seriously, and in doing so, learned skills that he uses to this day as a 38 year old manager.  My dad also would have been proud of his academic achievement - he won admission to Cooper Union which then was equivalent to a full tuition scholarship.  

I wish my father could have seen my wife.  My wife was never a frilly sort.  She wore and wears almost no makeup, just a little eye liner under her very thick eye glasses.  She doesn't wear dresses either.  And I know my father would have enjoyed my wife and I am sure Monta would have been charmed by my father.  

This is Monta in 1988

But neither my wife nor my son ever had the pleasure. 

And so it goes.  

My father’s funeral was a lively one, as funerals are when a person is still working, and even more so when he has kids.  So the oil man came (my mother and father were among his first customers) teachers came, our friends, my father’s pals, old bosses and so on.  I remember especially the visit of Dan Esposito who was in his mid 60s and had been my father’s boss a decade or so before.  He told us boys to remember that my father stayed working in his 60s.  He said we could not possibly know how much harder it is to be active and to keep working as you get older.  That to do so took persistence and was a sign of his character.  

We knew my father was hard working and a gentlemanly sort, but this stuck with me.  As I am now in my mid 60s, I finally understand.

I have personal regrets regarding my father.  I never had the opportunity to meet him as a man.  It would have been nice to have him see me as a young father.  My dad was a devoted father, and it would have been nice if he could have seen what I learned from him.

Dad in his last years.

Views: 75

Comment by Boanerges on June 16, 2017 at 7:56am

Nice tribute, Terry. I was fortunate that both my parents got to meet Red, and I'm glad about that. My Dad was particularly taken with her hair colour -- which was the same as his mother's as a young woman -- but was captivated by her wit and intellect.

Comment by Terry McKenna on June 16, 2017 at 8:00am

Thanks for stopping by.  One more thing that I understand with age is just how much grandkids are loved by grandparents.  So far, my son shows no signs of breeding..  oh well.

Comment by Steel Breeze on June 16, 2017 at 8:00am

R&L....good memories.......me an my ol man didn't talk much,but,he always called on my b-day to bullshit.....in 1990 on my b-day the phone rang early,was his buddy sayin they found him dead at the kitchen table that morning....kinna ironic.....didn't make the funeral(work)but still hoist a shot to him every b-day......did the best he could....

Comment by Terry McKenna on June 16, 2017 at 8:04am

Thanks.  Most dads do their best.  They/we are all experimenting and so if you have 5 kids, by the fifth, you might actually know what you are doing.

Comment by JMac1949 Today on June 16, 2017 at 9:10am

R&L.  Excellent post.

Comment by MV Neland on June 16, 2017 at 1:53pm

Loved reading your tribute to you father, Terry. A few tears of my own for my dad, too.

Comment by Terry McKenna on June 16, 2017 at 2:19pm

Thanks MV,  and thanks Jmac,  it is a hard topic to do without wallowing in sentiment.

Comment by MV Neland on June 16, 2017 at 3:19pm

I was one of the fortunate to have such an ally in this world. Given my circumstances right now, i hardly noticed the day was approaching. I'm glad you wallowed! Reading your story made sure that i pause, think of him, and give him my thanks. I never thought i'd do this, but like you, i wonder what he'd think of this or that...if he were still here.

Comment by koshersalaami on June 16, 2017 at 4:04pm

Thanks for this. I worked with my father and I've been at a trade show following a vacation (both in Orlando) for a few days, so I think of him a lot because it's a setting we shared for so many years. My parents divorced after I got married and his wife and my wife didn't get along for a few years, so it was good for us to have our work connection around that crap.

Comment by Terry McKenna on June 16, 2017 at 4:43pm

Thanks for stopping by, Kosh.  Families of full of all manner of oddities.  If my son ever does marry, I can imagine my wife not really getting along with whoever my son's wife turns out to be.  My mother was a bit weird with my wife too.

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