The Father’s Day post I had planned was going to be simple and much like the Mother’s Day post I did. I was going to wish all the dads out there a happy day and then give some book recommendations. Then I saw a tweet that made me stop and reconsider that decision. This was the tweet: Enjoy this Father’s Day weekend. And a special greeting to those for whom Father’s day is bittersweet. Peace, everyone. – SR
That means something to me because it is bittersweet. I was lucky enough to have had two fathers. I lost them almost exactly a year apart a long time ago. Sometimes as this day approaches I try to ignore it…kinda hard to do when you’re in the retail business and it surrounds you. This time I’d like to celebrate it and honor them.
I’m not really fond of the terms biological/real dad/stepfather, but for the sake of clarity I called my biological father Dad, and my second father Papa. Talk about total opposites?!?
My dad was a free spirit in every sense of the word. The 70′s were made for him and he never let them go. He felt most at home in places like Haight Ashbury and Berkeley. He had long hair way after short came back into fashion…he partook in things “recreationally” that weren’t legal to do so…which made him a cool dad in my friends eyes. He liked beer and hard liquor beyond what was healthy, and his culinary favorites were anything deep fried or swimming in gravy or sauce.
He had no sense of tact, but you always knew exactly where you stood with him. You know that phrase “suffer no fools”? That was made for my dad. He heaped both praise and criticism in equal measure. He didn’t finish college, but he was one of the smartest men I’ve ever known. He read encyclopedias like I read novels. He was an electrician who could’ve gone into management, but liked working with his hands. He was an artist who loved creating interesting, beautiful, and sometimes odd pottery…and his voice?!? OMG! My dad had a beautiful voice. Put Johnny Mathis on… have my dad start singing and it was hard to tell them apart. He loved his motorcycles and pickup trucks with equal devotion.
My dad loved the outdoors, so much so, that he was perfectly happy camping out in a tent not for days, but for weeks at a time. I don’t know which he loved more…the mountains or the ocean, but he was at home near both of them. He made good money doing what he did, but he hated to be tied down for too long. He’d scrimp and save and penny pinch for a couple of years then he’d take all of his accrued vacation and go off for 2-3 months…just wandering through the western states and up into Canada. Then he’d come back to his house and his job and start the process all over again.
I’d go visit him about twice a year for a month or two each time. Sometimes I’d go with him and his very longtime girlfriend on one of their jaunts. We’d usually go up or down the coast of California, or into the Sierra’s visiting historical sites or national parks. A few times we went up the coast into Oregon, Washington, and then into Canada. He also loved antiques. I cannot begin to tell you how many hours I spent looking at things from other eras and imagining stories of the people who owned them. My dad was not conventional in any sense of the word most of the time but those are experiences I wouldn’t trade for anything.
From my dad I am thankful for many things: My love of reading, travel, creativity, the beauty of the outdoors, and things with a past. Thanks Dad…I love you. I miss you.
My Papa was an exuberant Italian who loved his family with a fierceness, unconditionally. He was named after the first president. He was an architectural engineer in Boston who helped design buildings in foreign lands, and he shared his love of design with me whenever possible. He was a gourmet cook who taught me to appreciate fine foods. He made a baked, stuffed lobster dish that took hours of prep work and was beyond divine. I requested it for my birthday…and I always got it. He made traditional Italian food that even his sisters admitted was better than theirs. He was a wine connoisseur and he’d let me sit in on wine tasting parties so I could listen…and taste.
He was equally delighted by big, thick novels and slim volumes of poetry. He took great pride in cultivating the most beautiful and varied roses. My Papa was the most supportive father a teenager and then young adult could ask for. No matter how many mistakes I made he was always there for me. We’d have long heart-to-heart talks about anything and everything. He’d take me out to dinner and then to a play, the ballet, or a symphony every few months, or to a museum or historical house on a Saturday…just the two of us. He called me Princess, and made me feel like one.
After I moved back to California to live with my grandmother (much to his chagrin) he would send me the most wonderful, long letters every two weeks. He filled them with family details so I wouldn’t miss out on anything, and he always closed them by telling me how much he loved and missed me. He encouraged me through trying times, and no one was any prouder when I went back to college. He loved big luxury cars, and made no apologies for their gas guzzling ways. He preferred trousers and a polo shirt when he wasn’t in a suit, and I don’t think he ever owned a pair of shorts or flip-flops in his life. He was elegant and refined, but he wasn’t standoffish to anyone ever. He was openly affectionate with my mom, and he hugged my brother and I without reservation…often.
From my Papa I am thankful for many things: My love of poetry, the arts, cooking and baking, good design, love of learning, compassion, and the power of a hug. Thanks Papa…I love you. I miss you.