My Dad could fix anything. He fixed pipes, cars, broken toys, cracked walkways.
He was a builder. He built shelves and storage sheds. He created furniture and toys and additions on the house. His hands were sure and capable. He frowned when he worked, puzzling over a problem, a pencil always over his left ear.
On Saturdays, he’d work in the yard. He would weed, screen loam, spread grass seed, prune the bushes. There always seemed to be something for him to be doing.
I remember him coming in for lunch, in a white t shirt or a sweatshirt, that pencil still on his ear. We would have Italian cold cuts. Mortadella, salami, capicola, provolone cheese. He’d put hot peppers on his sandwich if he had a cold.
On hot days, Dad would sprinkle salt into his beer. I never asked why, but in my childhood it seemed like a right of passage.
Dad could make pancakes. On Saturday mornings he’d let my Mom sleep in a bit, and he’d sit with his kids watching the Three Stooges and the Little Rascals. He’d sit on the floor, his back against the couch. We would perch on his legs and nestle into each side of him.
He’d laugh. Loud and exuberant, unrestrained, big open mouthed guffaws at the antics on TV.
Then he would make us pancakes.
Eventually, Mom would come down the hall, in her robe. Dad would always grab her and kiss her with the ardor of a teenager. “Isn’t she beautiful?” he’d ask his wide eyed children. We readily agreed.
Dad was patient. He tried like a saint to teach me the concept of algebra. I never mastered it, but he never gave up.
Dad was generous. He was honest. He had more integrity than anyone I’ve ever known.
When my Father died, the line to get into his wake was so long that it wrapped around the building. People he’d known for years mixed with people he’d met in his job. They came with thanks, and they came with sadness. They came to tell us how much he’d meant to them.
Our Dad was loving. His adored our Mother, the love of his life. He loved all six of each children, and every one of his grandchildren. He made time for us. He listened.
I see him in the dark brown eyes of my granddaughter, and I see him in each of my children. I hear his voice as I walk in the quiet woods. I feel his breath on my cheek as I drift to sleep with a baby in my arms.
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.
I love you.