Dad worked as far back as I can remember as an engineer for Reading Railroad. While Mom ran a firm but loving household, Dad was a solid bread winner and a decent man in the grand scheme of things. Family and spirituality were equally important to Dad.
He believed in respect, loyalty and honor in the family. I admit he was old fashioned in his views of women, which may be understandable considering his generation and our strong Italian-American heritage on my paternal side.
I instantly smile now when an Italian meal is served without bread. I can remember the 'stink' (a Miss Sammie word...) my daddy raised when we were invited to my brother Johnny's home and bread was not on the table. Suffice to say, there was always bread on the table after that incident.
I seemed to have Dad figured out early on. I clearly had an advantage, as I saw my siblings get a verbal smack down when not in immediate compliance with his request. It was always the same, "Show your father some respect."
I have always respected my elders, whether family, colleagues or patients. I believe this is due to my dad's expectations. I believe they were worthy expectations in the grand scheme of things.
I got my dad talking and smiling every once in awhile. He was generally so serious. As I look back, I am convinced my dad carried enormous worries of keeping our family happy, healthy and never in want for anything of true necessity.
Dad died in December, 1995, of complications from a stroke. For years I've held onto thoughts, acknowledgements and gratitude that was long left unsaid.
This month, at my Gestalt workshop in Cape May, I spent some time handling unfinished business with my dad, under the insightful and kind guidance of Mariah Fenton Gladis. I was able to tell a man (who reminded me of Dad in ways) how grateful I am (now) for his gifts of stubbornness, perfection and, even, his anger - which have served me well.
This song by Frank Sinatra (loved by Dad and me) hit the airways in 1961, the year I was born, Come Rain or Come Shine.
The next question from my interview series seemed most applicable to today's theme of fathers. Take a look for yourself at some of the responses I received.
What important traits does a father have?
What wonderful responses!
Thanks to all who sent your feedback and hoping others will add their thoughts in the comments section.
Until next month, wishing you peace and inspiration and Happy Father's Day to all the men in your world.
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