Saturday, March 8, 2014

Being Dad: What's Does It Take?

Dad: Headed to 91
Oya Mala, Puerto Rico

As I observe my son-in-law, take on his triplets, I can't help but notice all the great qualities he has for this massive undertaking. Like my Dad, Travis is a tremendous hard worker and dedicated to his family above all. 

He Worked
My father came to the US mainland in 1949. He labored in all kinds of manufacturing jobs in New York City and later Connecticut so that his children could be educated. Although he rarely had time he kept his Sabbaths open for us. At times though during his forties he worked several jobs to keep afloat.

There wasn't time for a lot of play or luxury for him. He worked and worked and continued to work until the age of 76. His life up until that time was filled with many reversals but he did not and would not quit even though he was plagued by a genetic flaw: depression. Without medication he forged through it with the help of my mother by his side.

He ruled us with a firm hand but we knew that he loved us, but we also dared not cross him. Still at the age of 90, I respect him enough not to argue with him or anger him. Most of his decisions were right and he kept me from making severe mistakes by setting a great example. My father never drank and never smoked. He was always home unless he was working. His hands were scarred by work related injuries but I also remembered his hands comfortably holding a pen to write his ideas (Bible studies down).

Some of us wait till our parents are deceased to say flowery things about them. I would rather honor my father now before any onset of sorrow. Dad demonstrated his love by his capacity to relentlessly toil for his family and by granting his unconditional love to both his now adult children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. 

As my parents aged, Dad and Mom, took care of each other. Each played doctor and nurse at times. When my mother experienced the last stages of dementia, my father slept on the floor by her bed at home. He took great care of her and cooked for her when she no longer could. Exhausted by her illness he stood fast by her side and anguished over her illness. 

So what does it take to be like him? It takes a real man to love his children and face adversity. It takes a resolve to succeed against all odds and to make a child's future better and more comfortable. It takes vision to leave a child with something intangible that no one can take away such as a trade, a passion, or an education.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Miles & Blanche

75 Prospect St
Winsted, CT

Been thinking about posting this story for a while, but I was always reluctant to talk about this very private love story. Suppose I didn't want to tattle on old folks or snitch if you know what I mean. They were both white headed, very dapper for their ages somewhere north of their seventies I presumed.

Blanche (an appropriate New England name) was slender and a tall lady with very elegant features, pristine white hair and always wore bright red lipstick I remember. For years she had worked at a local ladies boutique, Isaacson's on Main Street. Every hair on her head was permed its seemed to me and her tight silver curls graced her head almost like a tiara graces some kind of royal. The curls belonged there as as did the pearl necklace and earrings she always wore.

He was ruggedly handsome with a strong jaw but his arthritis nearly crippled him and after a while he walked with two canes, one for each hand. He would always come to visit Blanche every Sunday evening. I knew this as fact because he was our landlord on 75 Prospect Street. A very kind man who never raised his voice and who when he talked his voice smiled.

Miles, that was his name and it was easy for me to remember cause I thought of him as Smiles. Smiles the man who every Christmas gave us December's month of $75 rent free. Hard not to forget when he knocked on our door to give us the news. It meant more gifts for us each year.

Miles and Blanche were good Catholics but he was married and she was single still. Miles could not divorce and marry Blanche. He had to wait for his wife to pass. For years Miles would visit Blanche and stay for long hours to chat; two old lovers and wonderful friends, I recall. There was something special about their love, friendship, and loyalty. They didn't have to be married to care for each other but they did. Never saw them hold hands or display affection though but I certainly could feel their love.

It's been over forty years since I saw either of them but there's something always that makes me think of them. Can't say I know but it warms my heart thinking of them in the apartment above ours on a cold winter's night on 75 Prospect St. Suppose they never married but I like to think that somewhere Blanche and Miles are holding hands properly and more than friends eternally.

Monday, March 3, 2014


Day of Iguana
Rincon, Puerto Rico
We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, 
whether it is to sail or to watch
-we are going back from whence we came.
John F. Kennedy

Had the good fortune to spend some time with my father in Puerto Rico. While there I stole sometime to head to Rincon beach on the western side of the island. Needed to hear the ocean surf and for a bit still my soul and rock it with the constant undulation of Caribbean Sea.

Rincon Surfer
Rincon, Puerto Rico
Near the lighthouse, just south of Aguadilla, I was able to observe both the iguana and beach surfer, one on land the other on the sea. Each enjoying what the ocean offers and simultaneously basking in the sun. It seems that over the years, we forget what simply makes us content and some of it is free of charge and requires no mortgage.

Yet many of us voyagers, on this journey called life, have managed to mortgage our best years of life to quench insatiable desires believing we will find the illusive happiness. Don't believe any longer that happiness can be measured by the square footage of my house, its contents, nor the automobile I drive. Can't say I know exactly what defines it or how I can measure it, but I think both surfer and iguana may be on to something greater than I've found on my quest.