Archive for June 20th, 2021

Dad Christmas Party 1940 closeupAnother Father’s Day. This year is the first since my dad died this past October. It’s not that other Father’s Days were big sentimental celebrations. It was never like that in our family.

But this year just feels a bit different. More retrospective than those in the past, I guess, which is how the time since his death has been, sorting through memories and the very few artifacts of his life he left behind. Trying to find small hints of his reality.

I say that because he was sort of an enigma. I got the feeling that you never knew the whole story about him, that he was always holding something back. Probably from all those years he played poker, not wanting to show his hand too early for fear of losing his advantage. He grew up tough and poor so anything he could do to hold onto an edge over anyone was important. 

As a result, he wasn’t quick to share feelings or memories. You only gleaned glimpses and facets over time and would have to stich them together like a quilt. Even then you couldn’t be sure if you were getting the full picture.

The quilt I have assembled of him is surely different than those of my sister or brother. Though we shared many memories and experiences with him, we all had many unique ones that shaped our individual perspectives of him.

The picture shown here is the only photo of him as a child that I know of. Taken from an old newspaper that I came across a few years ago, it’s from a Christmas party put on by the student nurses at St. Joseph’s Hospital for the neighborhood kids on Elmira’s eastside in 1940. He died not more than a block from where this photo was taken. He was seven years old when he was part of this makeshift group of carolers.

Still wide-eyed and innocent.

Like I said, he was an enigma and will most likely stay that way in my mind, at least. I knew him well but wish I could have known him better. But I have my distinct quilt of memories and experiences, good and bad, to hold on to and that will have to be enough.

Here’s a version of the Beatles‘ song In My Life from Diana Krall for this Father’s Day edition of Sunday morning music.

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