He leaves work early, grabs a quick supper and is at the field to watch his grandsons in each Little League game they play. He’s been doing that for eight seasons now, for each of my two sons, but try to find a store bought card that says as much.
But then, he was always there for me, to chase away the fears of a new school or make a teenage problem a bit easier to handle with a quiet talk.
He always brought home to me a special doll for my collection whenever he went fishing in Vermont. And, when I was sick, never failed to stop for comic books on his way home from work.
I went to three shops yesterday and none of the cards I pulled from the rack said a word about any of this.
My little girl problems have changed with the passing of time but he’ll still do anything that I ask…bring a vacuum cleaner back to life, build a bookcase for his granddaughter and even sneak candy bars into a hospital room for me.
He’s 68 now, but still looks as young and handsome as he did that day long ago when he made his 11-year old daughter feel so grown up by taking her to his favorite Doris Day movie.
As a youth he played a mean trumpet and nowadays he gets the attention of his grandsons when he relates the adventures his group had when they played the shoreline spots.
I’ll tease him and he’ll smile when I tell him not to try any trumpet playing because his lip may bleed.
How proud I was when growing up, listening to the sound of his five-piece band practicing. I see them today, pausing in their music and standing for the vocals…
“I’ll be down to get you in a taxi honey…”
He couldn’t snap the cuff links on his ruffled shirt the morning of my wedding. His hands were trembling. I knew it. And, when I look at the photograph album of that day I see us, preparing to walk down the aisle, and we both look so sad. He reminds me now about the bottle of Chianti he has saved since that day.
“We’ll open it on your 25th anniversary!” he kids. “It’ll be vinegar!”
I am so fortunate for these and a hundred other memories of growing up with him. But where am I going to find a store-bought card that will manage to say it and rhyme it all and tell him that ever since I can remember, I remember loving him.
The best possible way is to simply do it myself.
This article was the author’s first published piece in the Record-Journal. It appeared on the editorial page on Father’s Day 1984. It is reprinted in memory of the writer’s father, Joseph Francolino, who died in November 1995 at the age of 79.