Fathers’ Day marks a time of remembrance. I grew up with a father who took pride in his six children. A high school education was absent from his resume. The man never had enough sleep He provided the basics to his loved while he spoke of higher expectations for his sons”I don’t want you to work as hard as I do.” Finish high school and find a paying job in the trades.” This advice echoed throughout the “Back of the Yards, ” an area in Chicago so named because it was located south of the stock yards of Chicago) households.
Dad counseled counseled his daughters,(well at least to me) to find a husband who was capable of providing for me and our family. This speech echoed throughout the 1950s and early 1960s. I am the first born child, the prototype. Perhaps my siblings’ reflections on Fathers’ Day portrays another reality.
My father, a man who wanted his children to work hard and make a better life for themselves educationally and financially reflected his desire for his children to succeed. Is this a sad remembrance? His unique laugh and tenderness towards my mother revealed his softness..
He was short-tempered in his younger years. I attribute this anger on his years of minimal sleep. It was in my early twenties when my father got the job of his dream, a Chicago “Garbage Man.” The workers rode on the back of the truck, rain, snow, and the miserable humid heat of the summer. The cans lifted into truck by the men. (The automated lifts appeared after his retirement.)
Never owned a car until the 1970s. The family walked everywhere, rode the bus, or a friend or family member would “pick up all eight of us.
When I possessed his undivided attention, usually on the seven block walk from my grandmother’s bakery, he bestowed wisdom. The times being alone with my dad revealed his pride in me, but would add “you can do better.” Thiis phrase he imprinted in my DNA. Harsh? Perhaps, but it made me feel he saw potential. Dad wanted more for me because he noticed my grit and ability.
Thanks “Daddy!” I listened, observed and learned.