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bito On June - 19 - 2010

Happy Fathers Day, Dad.

The day is here.  What memories do you have of this day?  Do you remember a kindness that you and your father shared?  A secret you cherished, one your siblings did not know?  An ice cream cone he bought you?  Playing catch?  Your Dad meeting your date?  The hug he gave you. Teaching you to swim, ride a bike, read a book…….?

I was my Father’s caregiver the last couple months of his life and I think it was the closest we ever were in our lives.  Since that time , Fathers Day means more to me now than when he was alive.

Share a thought with us or just post him your wishes.

I have many memories I could share but just to start his day off, here’s a one of the good ones.

Perhaps the most lasting influence my Father had on me was his involvement in the Union (first picket line at 8) and the Democratic Party (first election at 9), and a “need” to help improve  working peoples lives.  But on to a story….

This story has to do with a gift my Father gave to me.  A gift I am quite sure he never knew he gave me.
My dads work required him to be on call all the time, we never knew when he would be working and when he would be off.  When I was in high school I was involved in sports, one of them being “Track & Field”, one of his H.S. activities.
On certain days my dad would get off work, and instead of going home (or to the bar) he would stop by either my practice or a meet.  I would be occupied in the practice, look up and just happen to see him there talking to my coaches, or if it was a meet, catch a glimpse of him cheering me on, there on top of the fourth corner.  Nothing was ever said later and I never told him how much it meant to me.  Such a little thing.  But it felt as if he was saying “I care about you- I’m proud of my son.”  I have thought about that for many years and it always gives me a warm feeling. Just that little gesture.  Unknown to anyone but me.

I know fathers Day is highly controversial and I apologize to anyone I may have offended.

Written by bito

Was once a handsome frog until kissed by an ugly corporate princess.----- Like a well honed knife, the internet can be a wonderful and useful tool. It can be used to prepare and serve a delicious meal or it can be used to cause harm. peace

27 Responses so far.

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  1. kesmarn says:

    B’ito, what a great idea for an article.

    I was celebrating with “The Dad” out of town yesterday and was off line, but I hope it’s not too late to throw out a word of appreciation to the human roller coaster who is my father. Always interesting, never boring, sometimes a complete “rock,” sometimes a verbal knife wielder — completely unpredictable, but always the “object of my affections” — there’s no easy way to describe him.

    He himself had a bumpy start. The first son of Hungarian immigrants — he held “favored status” in the household. But he seldom felt favored, since his mother died of childbirth complications when he was 5 days old. Until his dad re-married, he was bounced from household to household in order to secure some sort of care while my grieving grandfather continued to work. After a few years my grandfather married my father’s aunt (sister of his deceased mom) and had another son with her. She died a few years later. (Life was not a “given” for mothers then, to say the least.) Finally my grandfather married the woman I knew as “Gramma,” and she brought into the marriage her own daughter from a previous marriage, as well as a measure of stability. (And we talk of blended families as if they’re something new!)

    What my dad learned from all this loss and change was an amazing ability to adapt…a really remarkable flexibility. It’s served him well.

    He had two daughters and was a sports nut, so we had to learn all about the finer points of baseball and hockey. And he was crazy about following politics, so we have always had lots of political talk around the table. A staunch union man and a hard worker, he took night classes on the college level and made it into management. But he always kept his associate membership in the UAW-CIO. He was a dedicated Democrat and an early champion of civil rights.

    As a father he was always engaged. Sometimes in a critical and demanding way, sometimes in an encouraging and supportive way. I guess I took it for granted that this was what fathers did. It wasn’t until years later, when I became a parent, and --for reasons that are due to his own upbringing-- my kids’ father was quite indifferent to them, that I realized how big a hole this leaves in kids lives…this lack of engagement. When my daughter married the very first boy she had a date with because he put his arms around her and told her he loved her, I knew that I had had something that she had not. Whether my dad was infuriating or delightful — at least he was there.

    Now he’s losing his vision. (His hearing was poor a long time ago!) I know it’s very tough on him. Sometimes it makes him mad. And sometimes when he’s mad, he’s mean and sarcastic. I guess I can’t really blame him.

    My mom died 20 years ago this year. My dad re-married shortly after her death to a much younger woman. They live in a little world of their own creation in which he is her always-strong, ever-young father figure, and she is the princess to his knight in shining armor. When he has chest pain, she doesn’t call the doctor. When he falls, she doesn’t take him to the hospital. What could be wrong with her knight? Surely nothing. Maybe it’s better that way. Theirs is a small world that depends heavily on denial.

    But, the older I get, myself, the more I realize — there’s a lot to be said for denial! :-)

    Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

  2. choicelady says:

    Thank you, bito -- what a wonderful thing to read on Dad’s Day!

    My father was a very wonderful man for a thousand reasons. He was not as present in some ways as I’d have liked when I was little, but that had everything to do with the fact that he’d learned he had Parkinson’s Disease at age 34. Adjusting to the probability that he would die too soon and be incapacitated was pretty much all-consuming. The docs told him to take it easy, but it drove him nuts, so he started exercising every day to keep flexible. He lived to be 89, worked a full career, and was able to travel and enjoy things to their fullest until the last five years. I once went to the exercise room with him in his retirement home, and he would bike for 10 minutes then pulled weights for another. He pulled 80 pound even though by that point he weighed only about 145. So much for doctorly advice!

    He was Director of Research for a business advocacy organization in Chicago. Despite the organization’s basic conservatism, he used his research to do several things -- the biggest was to promote equal opportunity hiring by proving it would be economically beneficial (which it was) and open housing (which ended block busting.) Many years later, I learned from Chicago civil rights leaders that my father was a deeply admired man for his work. He could convince anyone of anything. He was calm, kind, funny, and warm -- and people listened to him. He also advocated for unionized workers since he thought that also promoted prosperity for the city’s businesses, and they listened to that, too. Everything I know about respect for all people I learned from him. My mother talked about respect. My father lived it.

    I also got my sense of humor from him. He’d laugh until the tears ran down his cheeks, and I still am a “throw your head back and laugh hard” person. It turns out to be rare among older people, and I’m grateful to him for that gift! He had a great appreciation of the absurd -- never unkind -- and could find humor in just about any situation. To this day, when I train people in how to advocate, first I make them laugh, then I show them if you can laugh at something political, really LAUGH (not just snicker cynically) you can deal with it. He also gave me my best professional “tool” that way.

    He taught me courage -- having Parkinson’s is no walk in the park. He never got mad, never was embarassed by his condition, and through all kinds of hard times adjusting to new meds, starting to falter physically, losing his sight to macular degeneration, he kept an even keel. He was thoughtful of all other people and kind to everyone around him. I don’t know a single person who did not love him.

    His best gift was to love my entirely unloveable mother. He never stopped, even as she sank into a miasma of self pity and anger. He, a lifelong atheist, found after her death that he was “seeing” her as she came to “visit” him, and one of the best conversations we ever had was about how he’d find her when he died. It was not religious, but it WAS life and love affirming. I was pretty much shooting from the hip since I have no idea what comes “after”, but it was a powerful discussion. There was a minor miracle in it, too -- he was almost unintelligible by then, but I understood every word he said. Wow.

    He died almost a year to the day after her, and he made the most of that last year on his own terms, in his own way. He was in a Catholic nursing home (NOT my idea) and started going to mass. While the nuns thought they had a convert, I knew better. He was just bored, and mass was a way out of the room and away from the infernal cartoons the aides insisted upon having him watch despite my repeated pleas for CNN. He thought it was interesting to be around people, did not understand or believe any of it theologically, but it was pure enjoyment. He thought also that if it made the nuns happy, it made him happy to do it. He liked them, and they liked him. He never revealed that he did not believe a word of it.

    In the last three weeks he lost the ability to swallow. Just like Terri Schaivo, he did without food or water. He turned his face to the wall, closed his eyes, and let come what may. It was his wish, and it was honored. He simply slipped away, peacefully and without pain.

    I miss him a lot, have tons of photos and a few items from his service in the Coast Guard during WW II, and I treasure them all. He was a wonderul human being, and I’m so glad he was my father.

  3. escribacat says:

    What a bunch of great posts. I have to say I’m quite envious of many of you. My dad was one of those old school types who mostly just minded his own business and let my mother take care of the family. (She was very cranky about it too.) Every once in awhile he’d show some sign that he was proud of me but I think even those basic feelings embarrassed him. Like his ancestors before him, he was a dreamer who always thought he was going to strike it rich with a gold mine. He was also a funny, silly man. He loved to hold a brush over his lip and say “Hitler!” I always thought it was funny. He died in 1996 and as time goes by I remember him more and more fondly. He didn’t particularly do much fathering but I know somehow that it wasn’t because he was a bad guy. He just didn’t know how.

    • PepeLepew says:

      I can relate to being envious, but Bito made a good point, that there is a good side to being a dad, and that’s where I count my blessings.

  4. AlphaBitch says:

    Thanks to everyone for sharing. My daddy died some 20 plus years ago, and I still miss him terribly. He taught me everything. Some of his lessons were:

    -- Don’t ever lie. ALL bad things begin with a lie.

    -- Not everyone can be smart, but everyone can be good. (He didn’t expect my sister or I to make As in school, except in conduct. We HAD to make a B or better, or we suffered through a six week grounding until our grades improved. I was traumatized by my older sister’s ordeal, so I never made a bad grade in conduct. I think, just being quiet and paying attention, is what helped me be a very good student.)

    -- You can learn from each person and each situation that you encounter. Just be smart enough to listen. It’s harder to listen than to talk. (OK, maybe I’m not that successful with this lesson!)

    -- God SHOULD live more in our hearts and less in a church. (He never went to church; my mother came from a family of German immigrants whose eldest sons were all Lutheran ministers.)

    -- It’s not how many times you get knocked down in life that matters; it’s how many time you get up that does.

    -- You can BE anything you want to be, and DO anything you want to do. Just be sure you don’t hurt anyone along the way.

    And so many, many more. We shared the same love of music, and books, and the outdoors, and fairness and justice and all the other good things. I saw him scare the beejesus out of a man who tried to hurt my sister; my dad weighed about 145 lbs, and stood about 5’8″. He was tough when he needed to be, and tender when he saw it was needed. I still hear his voice, live his creed, and love him tremendously. I try to be -- to my little Afghan “babies” -- the type of parent he was to me. I know he would be proud, and that’s part of what keeps me going.

    To all the daddies out there: your children listen and learn from you. Try and make the lessons meaningful.

    Thanks again, dear friends and dear, dear Bito.

  5. Khirad says:

    It was interesting to hear my dad talk about his dad a little today. A house mover, my dad grew up relatively poor. It instilled in my dad, I guess, that while my grandpa was a hard worker, and came home aching and beaten, he still had a hard time paying the bills. It instilled in my father, I guess I figured out for the first time, what he passed on to me. That the “work hard and you’ll succeed” mantra of the right isn’t just false, it is offensive. Of course, through education and hard work of his own, my dad did make a life for himself, and for me.

    Starting to see my dad age is hard for me -- that he won’t always be there. He’s already lost both his parents, and my mom has lost her dad. Now we’re talking about my other grandma’s limited time left. Oh, I don’t know how they do it, how you guys do it. I don’t have to think about it much now, but I just don’t know how I could deal without my dad’s humor, reassuring warmth, and insight.

    Yes, he’s given me a lot of my interest in politics, history and the world. But those are not the only things we share. It’s still a little hard for me to do cheesy stuff, like say “happy father’s day” -- but, as you guys help remind me, I need to be grateful for what I still have.

    I have a story.

    Once we as a family went to the mountain. I was grumpy cause I always wanted to sled down the hills and we’d forgotten the plastic contraptions at home. Well, my dad drove all the way down the mountain, across the river, and came back hours later with them. At the time I was overjoyed. Now, I feel a little guilty. That’s the kind of guy my dad is. Now, I wasn’t spoiled, or brattier than most, but I’d been wanting to do this -- as all we ever did was cross country ski. Still, we were at a neat lodge and it wasn’t as if the world had ended (though try telling that to an 11 year old [?] boy). I’ll never forget that. He never made so much as a complaint.

    • Mightywoof says:

      I love your story about the little brat you were -- but we all were Khirad, it’s what kids do :) . I was a terrible brat and one day, in my 30’s after watching friends deal with their brats, I called my Mum and apologised to her -- I think Dad’s (and Mums) need to hear sometimes that we’re OK now, as adults, and we recognize all they did for us and what they had to put up with.

      Your Dad sounds kind of special -- and it is hard to watch them age and to hear the tick-tick-tick of the clock in your head.

  6. PepeLepew says:

    My dad was such a hard-case and died when I was a kid, so today has always been awkward for me, to tell the truth.
    But, I did get a Viva Mexico soccer scarf today! :)

  7. Mightywoof says:

    Thanks for your story Bito -- what a treasured memory for you to have.

    Ah Kalima -- the love you have for your Dad shines with every word you write about him and I won’t even say ‘treasure your moments’ because I know you do.

    My Dad has been gone for 5 years now and I miss him (and my Mum) very much. Dad was, in the manner of English Dads of his era, a very remote man -- discipline and hugs was the woman’s job and the man only ever stepped in when the children were being particularly fractious. Consequently, I grew up kind of knowing my Dad loved me but never being quite sure.

    That changed when I flew back home for Mum & Dad’s 50th anniversary. It was a surprise visit and Mum was so happy to see us but my Dad just totally gob-smacked me. He started crying and hugged me until I couldn’t breath and held my hand all evening -- it was and is the best gift he ever gave me.

    So Happy Father’s Day Dad -- and to all the other Dad’s out there and in here ….. don’t ever let your children grow up not knowing for sure that you absolutely and unreservedly love them to pieces!

    I have to ask Bito -- why is Father’s Day controversial?

    • bitohistory says:

      Mwoof, Seems that the thread of most everyone’s stories has something in common: they appear to be simple acts to others but they mean so much to you. I do know about hugs from fathers(or lack of.) My father was German/Swedish and I think they have laws about not hugging, but when they do…. You know it is something special.

      (What is controversial about Fathers Day? Another “gift” from my father—sarcasm. So many of the posts here are serious and controversial and I was just making a small attempt at humor--didn’t work sorry)

      • Mightywoof says:

        Oh gosh, Bito -- now I’m embarassed ….. I am sometimes so literal-minded! My only excuse is that I’d only had one cup of coffee this morning *note to self -- do NOT post a word until after your 2nd cup o’ coffee*

        • bitohistory says:

          Nothing to be embarrassed about, woof. My fault. I know better than to not leave a smilie, a wink, something to indicate one’s meaning. The written (and spoken) word is easily mistaken without a bit of a clue. (What, you didn’t see me wink? 😉 )

    • Kalima says:

      Your story touched me too Mw and I’m so sorry that you have lost them both.

      I remember when I was 6 years and had just started school, this wonderful man picked me up, threw me in the air and said, “Call me Daddy.” It was my first English word along with “yes” and “no.” I did call him Daddy and have from that day on. One year later he married my mother and started adoption proceedings. I can’t thank him enough for giving me his name and his love. He will be 88 in December and guess what, to surprise me, he had opened his computer about an hour before we called him, and by trial and error with a little cursing and a few cuppas I’m sure, had opened the link to see and enjoy our animated ecard.

      So here is a toast to fathers all over the world who have given their children all that they could and have loved them unconditionally through successes and failures.

      Cheers and thank you, especially my wonderful “Taffy” Welshman, and as he asked me to do, my Daddy.

      • bitohistory says:

        Oh, goodness, Kalima, I’m with woof--sniffle. What a treasure, to be chosen, accepted, wanted into “Taffys” life. What a wonderful new English word you learned that day.

        Both my parents are “gone” but I don’t think there is a day that goes buy that I don’t have either a thought or question for them.

        So, yes, to all the fathers, to all the dads who have loved us and tried their best, a toast to you.

        (your mother must have been something special for your Dad to accept such an incorrigible 6year old 😉 )

      • Mightywoof says:

        *sniffle -- looking for hanky now*

  8. Kalima says:

    Touching story about your father bito, thank you.

    I’ll be calling mine in another hour on Skype, we always lose the video less than halfway through. We laugh and curse a lot.

    I’ve sent him an ecard for Father’s Day, he doesn’t know how to open a link. We might get cross as I try to explain what he has to do in order to see his card.

    Before we say goodbye, I will say what I always say when we sign off, “I love you Daddy and thank you for everything.”

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