A Dad of a Sort

Posted: 15th June 2014 by admin in Blog
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On Mother’s Day, I did a post dedicated to the mothers of a sort who were around in my life after the mom-of-a-sort who brought me into this world had to leave it.  It seemed fair that on Father’s Day that I offer some commentary on the father who was around a while longer than she was.

The father, Chuckles as I liked to call him when I was a kid, was a cross between Archie Bunker and Louie DePalma. He was a rough spoken, trade school educated guy, a loading dock foreman who had a one-stop shop approach to feelings decades before Hermione informed Ron that he had the emotional depth of a teaspoon. If he was sad, he was angry. If he was scared, he was angry. If he was angry, he was angry. You get the idea.

I would come to joke with my older siblings, who were 21 and 19 when I was born, about having two sets of parents, as kids in really big families sometimes experience given that age range. We were raised by the same two people (at least until I was seven) and yet they were such different people by the time I came along that it might as well have been a different married couple entirely. My oldest brother and sister got the first set of parents, the stressed out from not sleeping, new, learn-as-you-go parents who had pictures taken and baby shoes bronzed. You know, the “I’ll give you something to cry for” parents. I got the older, rough-edges-worn-down a bit, more laid back parents who forgot to take pictures and (I suspect) occasionally forgot that babies wore shoes. There were benefits to being the youngest.

Benefits aside, he was never the world’s most emotive guy, this Dad-of-a-sort. Much of Urban Tidepool chronicles the challenges we faced as a family, Chuckles and I, often squared off against my brother Michael…or at least against his addiction, making the couple of tender memories I have of him all that much more important.

Oohhhh, I could tell you the funny stuff about him raising his arm in the middle of an argument with Michael and his pants falling down, leaving him standing there with a spatula in his upraised fist, dressed in his very snappy white boxers with little red hearts on them. It went kind of like this. “Goddammit, I TOLD you….ooops.” I’m pretty sure whatever that message was, it got lost in the delivery. Or I could tell you more stories about his cooking talents, as I depicted in Spaghettios, Spam and Other Holiday Favorites, one step shy of us requiring assistance from the fire department.  But this one…this one holds a special place in my heart and carried me through so many nights after his death, wrestling with overwhelming guilt over having left him alone the day he died.

An excerpt from Urban Tidepool:

“…I allowed one lone image to remain. I was twelve years old, going to bed, just starting to drift off when I heard his footsteps on the stairs. He stopped to use the bathroom before coming to my doorway. He stood for a moment, silent, probably thinking I was already asleep, then brushed past the dresser to stand by the top of the bed. He bent down in the dark, kissed me quickly on the forehead and turned around and left. He couldn’t do it while I was awake. I held on to that image, that one night, in the semi-dark, when it was inarguably clear that no matter what was going on in our house, he loved me. Dad, what happened?”

 Funny stories and snappy white boxers with little red hearts on them aside, sometimes it stirs in  me that I wish I could have gotten to know him longer.  I’ll bet that an Archie Bunker-Louie DePalma dad-of-a-sort might have been an interesting character to get to know.




  1. susan francis says:

    Oh so touching …and enjoyable

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Thank you for letting me know!

  3. BIrd says:

    This is one of the most beautiful moments, I’ve read about in a long time. Thank you for having the courage to share with us.

  4. kathie keller russo says:

    Have you finished the book? I would love to read it.

  5. Hey, Kath! It’s done and I’m working on getting letters of inquiry out to find a publisher.

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