Happy Father’s Day

(Copied and pasted from the Dragon’s Alley archives)

(My father died January 21, 1973. He was 57 years old. I was 26. The following was written some 13 years later. I have edited it a bit but it still reflects how I feel about my father.)

My father died when I was 26 and I remember being upset that I wasn’t upset. My father took a long time to die maybe three years. He died because he wanted to, not because he had to. Sometimes I think my father never really lived; was never really happy; didn’t know what happiness was.

When I think back I realize my father never talked about what his life was growing up. I don’t know what kind of child he was or what his dreams were. I don’t know what his disappointments were. I didn’t know him at all. But when I remember him I remember only happy things, quirky things, funny things. My father was very funny, sometimes in a very dry sarcastic way, sometimes very slapstick, but mocking, always mocking. I wonder how my father saw the world?

My father was. He was unto himself. He was an only son with five sisters; an Italian prince. He ruled the kingdom of the Torre family. When Jerry spoke everyone listened, everyone, that is, except his daughter. At one of the family funerals (his mother’s or his sister’s, I don’t remember which) my mother fainted and I took her to the lounge. Some of my father’s cousins came down to tell me “Jerry wants your mother upstairs”. I told them to tell my father my mother wasn’t coming back upstairs until it was time to go home. They looked at me aghast. “We can’t tell him tell him that” they said. “All right, I’ll tell him myself”. And they all trailed me upstairs, wanting to see what would happen when someone told Jerry “No”. When his response was “Oh, alright”, they stood amazed. The heavens didn’t open; I was not struck by lightning. You see, I was the only person who could tell my father “No”. More than loving me (and I know my father loved me more than anyone) my father respected me. I was so much like him. I would fight for what I thought was right and what was my right. But I fought as he fought, quietly. I don’t know who dubbed me the “quiet rebel”, perhaps my father, but I am like he.

My father was a most precise man. If you were to do something, then do it right or not at all. My father was a very good cook, and when he cooked, he cooked. Sauerbraten must be marinated three days in a crockery pot in a cool, dark place and so it was. I had to remember to go to the basement several times a day and turn the meat. Catsup was an abomination and rarely appeared on our table. Roast beef was only to be eaten at an exact state of rareness with au jus gravy, salt, pepper and nothing, I mean nothing, more. I didn’t know what brown gravy was until I was in my twenties.

My father owned a deli for a while. If someone ordered a roast beef sandwich, my father would offer salt, pepper, perhaps some lettuce. If anyone dared ask for mayonnaise, mustard, or God forbid, catsup, that was the end of the sale. He simply wouldn’t do it. He would carefully explain that this was the finest beef money could buy and no one would ruin his beef. They could take the sandwich the way he prepared it or they could go somewhere else. Everyone in the neighborhood knew my father and they acquiesced meekly.

Or liverwurst. Now liverwurst cannot be sliced thin and when you wrap it you put it in small irregular stacks so it won’t meld back into itself. People who asked for “liverwurst, sliced thin” went home with liverwurst roll. My father would slice it, make one big stack, then lean on it while he wrapped it. My father was 230 pounds; do you know what that did to the liverwurst?

My father was a truck driver for a beer company. I don’t know why he chose to be a truck driver. Perhaps because as such he had no boss, no one leaning over him giving him orders. He was his own man. But I’m telling you, he was the smartest, best-educated truck driver you will ever meet. My father read and instilled in his children (at least me) a love of reading and knowledge. We could never get through one meal without the table being littered with dictionaries and encyclopedias. It drove my mother crazy. If we made a statement, we had to prove it. If we used a fancy word, we had to define it. And if we couldn’t then out came the dictionary, right then and there.

And language, we were taught to use it correctly. My favorite example is when I asked my father to bring me a “cold glass of water” from one of his trips to the kitchen. When he came back, no water. “Daddy, where’s my water?” He said “the glass is in the refrigerator, chilling. You did ask for a cold glass of water, didn’t you” I caught on quickly “O.K., Pop, you know what I meant. ” “Well then next time, say what you mean”. If you said you were going “over” someone’s house, he would ask if you were taking a helicopter. Always my father was teaching. I suppose I got away with a lot, but never bad grammar, inaccurate language, flamboyant statements or unconsidered opinions. People say I’m a perfectionist. People get angry because they say I am always right. Not so, I am simply my father’s daughter. I think before I speak and I do things the only way I know how, the right way. Like my father.

It’s not to say my father didn’t have some major character flaws. He did. But they made him more unhappy that they made any one else. He died because of them. As the years go by, I resent my father for dying. He didn’t have to. How might my life have been different if he had lived.

Somehow I believe he would have saved me from all the bad decisions I’ve made; he would have protected me from them. He wouldn’t have let all these bad things happen. My brother wouldn’t have moved to Florida, so far away from me. I don’t know why I think that. My father never interfered in my life. My decisions were mine to be made and the price to be paid.

I resent that my father died; that he wanted to. We hardly talked, he and I. Because we were so much alike, though different in our opinions, every conversation was an argument. But how I learned from those arguments. Time would have mellowed my youthful arrogance, but my father took that time away from me.

I was never aware of loving my father. And now, I am aware of nothing else. That big bear of a man with the twinkling eyes that mocked the world around him. I wish I knew what made him so unhappy; I wish I knew him; I wish I had the wisdom then that I have now. I wish my father hadn’t left so soon.

Kind of a fun morning…

  • Time: 11am
  • Place: Home (NoVA)
  • Weather: Temperature: 81º, Humidity: 39%. Super sunny. No Breeze.

If I’m to make an omelet for Sunday dinner, I’m gonna need eggs. (Yes, I know today is Saturday but tomorrow the weather will be disgusting, so they say.) Therefore, I need to hike to the little market (only a mile round trip, but I’m old, I’m gimpy).

Do I have everything I need for this excursion? Hat – ✔︎ Glasses – ✔︎ Wallet, keys, phone – ✔︎ Tote bag – ✔︎ Off we go…

me

The biggest obstacle to hiking to the store, or anywhere around here, for that matter, is exactly that hiking – we got hills! And they all go up!

On the way to the store, first hill

 


Here’s the fun part –
At the foot of this hill, coming towards me is an older gentleman, with a hat almost like mine, and a cane. He steps to the side to let me pass. The following conversation ensues:

Me: slight laugh Oh thank you but I’m not going much faster than you are!
As I pass by I hear, from behind me, in a slight Southern drawl – 
Gentleman: Are you from New York City?
Me: laughing Yes, yes I am!
Gentleman: Brooklyn or Queens?
Me: Wow – you’re good. Born in the Bronx but mostly lived in Queens.
Gentleman: My folks were from Woodhaven…
Me: I grew up in Queens Village, near Cambria Heights/St. Albans…
Gentleman: nods knowingly You have something to brag about.
We both laugh and turn to go our opposite ways, I call out “Go safely now”.

Hiked the hill, bought eggs and grapes, headed home. The ‘going home hill’ –

 

So how was your Saturday morning?

I’m rattled

and unsettled. The first email I read this morning was from an internet friend. The email was letting me know that she wouldn’t be around on-line due to the sudden death of her husband. I got chills when I read it. These are not elderly people, and while she does not share all that much about her private life, and her husband had some health problems about 6 months ago, they were seemingly resolved.

I have no idea what the cause of death was but I cannot fathom, cannot imagine what she experienced coming home and finding him deceased. I simply cannot. Devastated – Shocked – What are the words to describe such a thing?

I’ve already mailed a formal condolence card as well as a personal card. Words are so inadequate, and words are all I have to offer her. This also rattles me.

We talk about friends and family – and mine are all right here on the internet. I cannot reach out and physically be there for them when they might need me, as I want to be. Nor can they be here for me should I need them.

We spend years building relationships, truly caring from our heart of hearts but when we are really needed, or wanted, all we have to share and give, are words.

 

Along with boxes I love trays

Y’all know my predilection for neat and tidy and organized. I like to put things in things so they are contained, neat and tidy. Over the years I have accumulated a few trays, I find them the perfect way to keep things together, and where they belong.

Today I re-arranged my trays!

The cats dishes (water and kibble) were in a large tray that we kept tripping over. Then last week I bought a silicone tray, very low profile for their their wet food because I got tired of having bits of dried chicken pate all over the kitchen floor.  It worked so well, I bought another for under their water/kibble dishes. Now what to do with the big plastic tray?

Last week my husband pushed the ‘brew’ button on the coffee maker before he put his cup under the spout – and you know what happened. So…

I have this old brass tray that I kept in the closet with all the huge, seldom used kitchen utensils. I also have on my dresser a pretty tray that I keep all my dresser odds and ends. I thought – let’s play musical trays and move things around.

The brass tray which had been in the closet – forgive the glare from the overhead light.

brass tray

The pretty tray from my bedroom dresser – once again, forgive the overhead light glare.

bluetray

Switching things around, the plastic cat food tray went into the closet with the utensils; the brass tray went onto the dresser –dresser

And the pretty blue tray went under the coffee pot –
coffeepot

And voilà – Something new into the house but nothing had to go out because re-use and re-purpose worked out beautifully. Cool!

WHINGING, WHINING, KVETCHING

I woke up this morning achey in both mind and body. I stayed too long abed. And yes, I talk like that in real life. I spent far too much of my youth in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.

Whingeing, Whining, Kvetching are not exactly synonymous, tho whinging and kvetching are closest to each other. I actually googled it. Perhaps whining is just the sound of whingeing and kvetching.

I suppose I could attribute my achey mind to my achey body – and that would be a good attribution. When tying your shoes becomes an onerous task and you start to think “I can’t do this anymore, life is too hard” ; well you can see the connection.

I would really like to whinge and kvetch – out loud, and loudly. Doing it silently in my head is just going to make matters worse BUT…

The basic, underlying problem is something I have been beating you and myself with for ten years now.  There was a possibility to alleviate the problem 6 years ago but I got tired fighting for it and so I just gave in and gave up. I could still do it now but the cost would be too high, and I mean that literally.

(Speaking of costs  – why are grapes $3.99 a pound? Am I living in some sort of fantasy land thinking that is way too much?)

I could do the upside/downside thing – but I’m just not in the mood to look at the upside (other than the fact that I no longer live in Philadelphia. Aw, geeze, those had to be the four most horrible years of my life, and trust me, I have had some truly, by anyone’s standards, horrible years.)

One problem I can afford to fix (and I am thankful that I can afford to fix it) is to get a new mattress. Having just spent $3000 on new computer equipment I can afford to spend $1300 for a new mattress.

So off I go to fix at least one of my problems. Can I get a pat on the back for that at least?

 

 

Miscellaneous Mishegoss

baffled-smiley-emoticonMy local newspaper is The Washington Post. It is printed on 12×22 (approx.) paper. The front section (Section A) was 20 pages today. There was a special section today devoted to the local hockey team (the Caps), who BTW just won The Stanley Cup. This special section was 30 full size pages. There was also a special section about the World Cup, this was 6 full size pages. Therefore one can infer that sports is more important than world and national news. Given the state of the nation and the world, I can understand why people would rather read sports news.

baffled-smiley-emoticonToday is June 11th. The current temperature is 61º and the humidity is 88%. It is chilly, dark and dank. I am wearing thick socks, heavy leggings and a long sleeve shirt. Aside from the humidity, I can easily live with the temperature and the dark – the dank and humidity are another story. But still, I’ll take this as opposed to 90+º with equal humidity.

Referencing yesterday’s post, I would offer you this short (just barely 3 minutes) video by Brené Brown called ‘Empathy’ – I do hope you will take 3 minutes out of your schedule to watch it…

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you tomorrow.

Lipstick on a pig

The other day a friend wrote on Facebook  “I can’t fake happiness right now.” And part of my reply was “Sometimes life just sucks and trying to put a positive gloss on it is like putting lipstick on a pig!

With the celebrity suicides in the news this week all the reports end with PSA’s – “if you are feeling depressed or suicidal, please call….”

Friends and family comments in the aftermath of suicides usually run along the lines of: ‘We had no idea they felt that way’ ‘I knew something was bothering them but I didn’t think it was so bad’  “I asked what was wrong but they wouldn’t really open up, so I just dropped it’

Yup, depressed people, suicidal people – they don’t talk about it. Why? Because if you talk about being sad, or depressed or just tired of trying to make life work for you, you get told ‘Stop being so dramatic’, ‘Pull yourself together’, ‘It’s not so bad’, ‘Try to find the bright side of things’ ‘If you want to be happy then act happy’ and ‘Fake it till you make it’

I’m calling ‘bullshit’ on all you happy-happy people.

Your life is grand? Swell. Your life has its up and downs, nothing major, you can deal pretty easily with it? Swell.

There are other folks who lives aren’t grand; whose up and downs don’t have an easy solution, or any solution for that matter.  A situation that wouldn’t register as so bad for you can be devastating for someone else.

I know, I’ve been there, I’ve done that.

So many times I’ve been able to find the upside to the downside, and I’ve written about it. But the times when I couldn’t find the upside, and wrote about it, I got the ‘Stop being a wuss’ ‘Stop whining, be happy’ ‘Oh poor you other people have it worse’ ‘Count your blessings’ – Yadda, Yadda, Yadda.

And then there were those pre-blogging times, when talking to face-to-face got me the exact same response. One time I was told that MY life was not about ME. Obviously I was talking to the wrong people.  There was never anyone I trusted to actually listen.

And so there were the times when the medicine cabinet and all the little bottles of pills were my only friends, the only ones who offered a solution.

Obviously that solution didn’t work. I’m still here.

So, I’m asking you, begging you – Stop throwing that ‘happy-happy’ crap around. If it works for you,  fine. But be damn sure that the person you’re throwing it at is able to catch it.

Stop telling people to put lipstick on a pig!