Here’s the thing about Father’s Day. As a writer, who had the best dad anyone could ask for, a real hero in my eyes, I sometimes wonder if I’m repeating myself. I could wax on for hours about the wonderful human being who makes up half of my DNA, but as I thought about writing something for Father’s Day this year, I struggled about what to say that I hadn’t said a hundred times before. Then last evening, as my husband and I were sitting by the fire, talking about our dads, reliving various memories that don’t always come up in general conversations, the opening of this poem came to me.
A Hard Working Man (aka My Dad) Poor health forced him to retire in his 50s, but he lived to nearly 90. Looking back I think he worked hard enough in the first 50 years to fill up the 40 that followed them. From the time I was small, it seemed he always worked two jobs, then he'd come home, tired, to do the heavy chores my grandfather, as superintendent of the apartment, was meant to do in lieu of rent. He hauled metal trash cans up from a sunken courtyard, shoveled snow during winter storms and black coal into the furnace. I can see him there still, sooty and sweating, smiling at me to stand back. He volunteered at church and the VFW, and he always had time for his family. In a time when men didn't do “woman's work”, he helped my mother around the house, washing windows and dishes, and waxing floors. Child care was a labor of love, we were his children, the two little girls he'd dreamed of years before he even met my mother. He always made time to play; to comfort us when we were sick, a fluffy comforter became snow as he was driving a sleigh, clicking his tongue in pretended horse hooves; to create magic with his imagination he'd make up stories of how towns along the train route got their names-- and we believed them with all our heart. No day truly ended until the bedtime ritual of good nights, I love yous, and “Daddy, bring me a glass of water, please,” was complete. If my mother went out to a movie and left him to watch us at night, it wouldn't be long before a faked “Daddy, I had a bad dream” echoed in the hall and he'd let me sit beside him, watching TV until just before he knew my mother would be home. Being a dad, as beloved as his own father was to him, was all the reward he ever wanted. And he was oh, so good, at being a dad. In later years when we'd reminisce there was one memory that always came to mind. Summer nights when the light lingered long, I would sit out on the steps and wait for him to come up from the subway after working hard all day. As soon as I saw him, I'd race down the block to greet him with hugs and kisses. He said if he had to choose, that was probably his favorite Dad memory. In a sea filled with thousands of treasured Dad moments, I think I'd have to agree.
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy. I miss you every day, but I know you are with me always. I love you.
Wishing a very Happy Father’s Day to all the Dad’s Out there. Thank you for all you do that we never really stop to notice.
~Elise Skidmore ©2020