I think all kids (especially girls) idolize their dads. They are strong, smart, fierce, loving, dependable. The list keeps going on. Now that my dad is 87 and has most of his life in the rear view mirror, he enjoys reminiscing about days gone by. Much to my mother’s chagrin. Today we took a road trip to Hamilton; me, mom, dad and Molly. Dad rode shotgun and the stories flowed.
He loves to talk about his youth in Kamitz (what was East Germany) and the shenanigans he and his brother pulled off. Today I heard a few new ones for the first time. Are you ready?
They lived near a neighbour who was a farmer. The neighbour took his produce to the market each week. The boys (neighbours son and my dad and uncle) were getting into things and the neighbour farmers wife suggested the kids pick raspberries to sell. They got a pail and picked until it was full and schlepped it to the market. Dad recalled how delighted they were when folks were paying them for the fruit. I didn’t know my dad had an ounce of entrepreneurial spirit. Who knew.
They also lived near a pond. The pond was stocked with fish. One day my dad dove into the pond thinking it was deeper than it really was. He dove straight into the soft silty mud. It wasn’t until his brother saw the legs kicking frantically that they realized dad was stuck head first in the mud. It was the first of many times my uncle saved my dads life.
Dad remembers the good food his grandmother prepared. She baked and cooked for the family and tended a small animal farm they had. Dad is in constant search of a similar bread that his grandmother made and these days he’s hooked on a walnut sourdough. His grandmother, however, baked a fatty ham chunk in the bread which can never be duplicated except in memory.
On their farm the lane way was lined with cherry trees. It was their joy to climb the trees this time of year and eat the cherries until they were full (stomach aches). Dad is annoyed that the cherries in the stores today are so expensive.
They had a cow, Rosa, who had milk production the likes of two cows. Dad giggled as he recalled milking Rosa and squirting the milk to the barn cats.
I don’t think he stopped talking for the two hour (almost) drive. Despite my moms best efforts. Once we got to Hamilton we paid a Father’s Day visit to two other gentlemen: Rudy Florio Sr and Walter Yanko. That would be Rudy’s (my husbands) father and maternal grandfather. Both buried at East Lawn Cemetery. Rudy’s dad was a hoot. And he could tell stories with the best of them, too. We often mud around using his voice as we mimic him talking about the cars at malls or traffic or sports. He was such an interesting man.
I never met Rudy’s grandfather, but Rudy will often recall memories especially around hard work, farming and gardening. He had a huge garden and always felt that you would never go hungry (as he had many times) if you could grow your own food. He’s buried with his wife and son (Rudy’s uncle “Fast Eddie”). Rudy’s sister Marilyn is nearby and tends to the plots. We are grateful for that.
Tomorrow is Father’s Day and I am grateful for the great dads I am privileged to know. This includes the senior dads and those deceased but it also includes Rudy my husband who is a fine father and example for his kids who are related and those he’s mentored in the football field and in business. I’m so proud of his accomplishments and continued graciousness. He teaches me a lot too. Everyday.
And my brother who quietly and stealthily goes about raising his son (my nephew Ben) and supporting his family in a genuine, intelligent and loving way. I’m so in awe of the man that emerged from the kid I once knew.
And my brother in law, Frank. Who has stepped up to the plate time and again as the head of his family whenever in need. I know his dad can take credit for showing Frank how to get things done. Frank is the one that we all count on to answer his phone (the hotline) and get us out of hot water. And he does it cheerfully.
To the men in my life: I salute you; I love you; I cherish you.