Like a lot of people, I have complicated feelings about my Father. And when I try to describe those feelings, it’s like a FLOOD of feelings. An over-load of emotion. Like a radio that’s picking up 10 stations at the same time. And all you can hear is static.
My Father’s parents were Italian peasants from Sicily who immigrated to America in the 1920s. Barely spoke English. Owned a little home in Passaic, New Jersey. Every now and then when I was a child we would visit them. My Grandparents. They always seemed like they were sluggish or in a stupor. I don’t remember them ever saying a word to me. And everything in their house seemed old and covered with dust.
Both of my Dad’s two brothers (older than him) saw some of the worst fighting in World War II. I was always struck by the irony of that. My family coming to America for a better life. Only to be shipped back to Europe to be ruined. They spent most of their lives in mental institutions. And my father would always watch over them through all the years, acting as their caretaker, to make sure they were doing all right
My Father was probably the first person in my family to graduate from college. Went to New York City to be a commercial artist. Worked in advertising for awhile. Realized it was a soul-less occupation. Took a stab at developing a comic strip. Finally opted for a career as a Methodist minister. Had his own churches where he preached every Sunday for 30 years.
I was enormously critical of him for many years for his various human foibles. He was a very nice guy, always meant well, deeply cared about people in his own way. He was a “hail fellow well met” type (think Ed McMahon). Always happy to meet you and greet you. But he was flawed in other ways.
But I respect that he came from nowhere — this sort of Italian peasant stock with a strong strain of mental insanity to it that was our family tree. And pulled himself up. And developed elevated interests in art and literature and religion and etc. And made a life for himself.
Plus. He created me. So I suppose I should be grateful to him. The bastard.
He’s around 85 now and still hanging in there.
Happy Father’s Day everybody!!