The LuLac Edition #3232, June 19th, 2016
Today is Father’s Day.
It is also my father’s birthday. For years we thought he was born on June 29th. As a matter of fact we celebrated it for years until he retired and started collecting Social Security. It turned out there was a discrepancy in the church records.
On this day eight years ago my mom was buried at St. John the Baptist Cemetery.
All of that sunk in late Saturday night after what was most likely the busiest and most hectic month of my life. The late John Kennedy Junior used to say “You aren’t really an adult until both your parents are gone”. A friend of mine disagreed and she posited that when that happens, you become an orphan.
I seem to think it is a little bit of both.
I think of my father every day when I get in my car with air or heat if I need it, or when I pop the top and put on my music and drive the 8 minutes it takes me to get to work. As I ride, it crosses my mind that he walked to work every day. Then he went on a train crew and cleaned tracks in the winter and maintained them in the summer. I think of him when I get stopped by a train as it rumbles down the tracks. I think of the hard work he did.
I also think of the questions I wish I had asked him. Out of his 66 years on earth, I had 26 of them. I had not had the luxury or the intelligence at the time to ask him questions. Not earth shattering questions but just things I think about today as a grown man. The answers will not change my life. But the fact that I never, ever thought to ask the questions makes it one of the few regrets I have in my life.
Now knowing my father there is a huge possibility he just might have shrugged them off. Maybe, maybe not.
But for those of you who still have your fathers, make a list and ask what you wonder about. You might not get the answers you expect or any response at all, but you won’t regret asking the questions.
So here are mine for my dad.
1. As the oldest child in a family of 7, you had told me you started working after the 8th grade, what exactly did you do?
2. Who was your best friend when you were growing up?
3. How was it being an essential worker during World War II on the railroads and did you have any special duties?
4. Did you have to pay your friend Frank Piontek to conveniently show up with his sedan when you were dating mom and chauffeur both of you to the next stop?
5. What was with the dancing, I never saw you ever dance anywhere. What was up with that?
6. How was it like to break the news to my mother that her second born daughter had died in childbirth, you had to bury her and then break the news to her?
7. Why is it that you never drank any alcohol while your father seemed to enjoy many a beer and a shot and a whiskey and.................?
8. Growing up in the Depression years (yeah I heard about the tin horn you got one year) what was Christmas like?
9. I know why you insisted that you call the divorced women I dated “widows” but why did you refer to all the women I brought home as “petunias?”
10. How did you deal with my sister after the death of the second child when from 1948 to 1953 she kept praying for a little brother? Did that put any pressure on you with, well you know.
11. As you spread out the newspaper on the kitchen table, what was the most interesting part of the newspaper to you?
12. You do realize that in terms of integrity, responsibility and hard work that you are a way better man than I’ll ever be, correct?
13. You do know that I love and miss you every day, right?