Dancing days: My Mom and Dad
Dancing days: My Mom and Dad

No one ever lost his temper in quite the spectacular fashion that my father did. 

I would have been afraid but even as a small child, I understood that his rare outbursts were more comical than threatening. 

In shear frustration, he once threw his golf club into the air, only to have it firmly remain in a tree. Red faced and furious that he lost an expensive club, he promptly took out another club and hit his ball right into the pond in front of him. On his third shot (same hole) he managed to rip his trousers.  He could take no more and almost tossed his entire bag into the water but broke the club over his knee instead. Still, he had a great game.  My Dad was like that.  

He was, in fact, so good- natured, so even-tempered, that whenever I was in trouble in school or worse, in trouble with my mother, I went to my Dad first. If you wanted to make peace in the Middle East, you would have been wise to send my father. If you wanted to catch Bin Laden, the smart money was on my mother.  

My Dad was a tough disciplinarian alright, but it was tempered with love and appreciation that he had probably made the same mistakes in his own youth. 

Curfew

My curfew was earlier than everyone else’s and in the psychedelic early seventies there would be zero tolerance for underage drinking, drugs, bad behaviour or, as he called it, “any other shenanigans” in his house. 

He told every boy that I ever brought home that there wouldn’t be “any funny business” going on and so I have used this as the reason I wasn’t more popular with the opposite sex during my high school years.

My father was the kind of guy who was always reaching into his pocket first. He couldn’t help himself. When the ice-cream truck came every night after supper during those long, hot summers, he gladly treated every kid in our neighbourhood. 

He would often stuff the bunch of us in his car to take us off to a parade. He didn’t care what the celebration, he loved the bands, the floats and even the politicians.  “He’s not a bad guy,” he would say to no one in particular.  He meant it. He was that nice.

Some days he’d say, “Let’s give your mother a break,” and off we’d go to a baseball game, hit a museum or watch the planes land at Logan, or grab an ice-cream sundae at Bailey’s. He would tell the soda clerk to make mine with extra marshmallow topping and hot fudge. I loved those days. 

Somewhere in a drawer I still have a picture of my Dad and me with my younger brother (my sister would come many years later) that was taken by a man from the Land Camera company (Polaroid). 

We had spent the day at the beach and were just about to cross the street when we were stopped by a man asking if he could take our picture. It was an enormous camera and if you waited for just a few minutes, the man told us, he would have an “instant” picture.  Presto. 

There we three were, my dad kneeling on one knee, his arms around the two of us, grinning. In my head I know that day so well. I can still smell the sea salt mixed with his particular scent and how he grabbed me so close. He always made me feel safe.  

We watched the rockets go up at Cape Canaveral, we watched our neighbours’ sons go off to Vietnam and we fought often and hard at our usual venue, the kitchen table.  He grounded me on a few occasions and stood up for me when a nun told him I was too smart for my own good. I can’t exactly repeat what he said — it was that rare occasion that he had lost his temper but I do know that I gave him an extra hug that night when we said our “goodnights”. 

He walked me down the aisle and many years later when it all imploded, he told me that he loved me and that somehow, even if I didn’t feel like it was possible, I would be fine. He believed in me and he was right.  

I miss my Dad. I miss his old ways and his gallantry. 

I miss his sense of humour and his love of certain songs. I miss him dancing and I miss that little girl that he let stand on his toes so that he could whirl her around. 

I would miss him more but he gave me all his love and that carries me every day — even when it rains or pours.  

Happy Father’s Day.