My daughter just had a World War II formal portrait of her grandfather; my father tattooed onto her arm. It’s always been a favorite photo of ours and this was her way of honoring our hero while he walks by her side as her escort for eternity. The Holiday season is always a season to remember and between the Holidays, and the new tattoo, I have been remembering a lot lately and thought I would write a few things down. In no particular order of significance, or any timeline, here are some lasting memories that I have.
I have vivid and total recall of all of the games and sporting events that my dad (and mom) would always attend. In fact he was my baseball coach when I was 10, 11, and 12. He, and the other coaches built the benches and backstop that we used and they did all of the silk screening of uniforms themselves because …they cared.
My dad managed Ricklin’s Hardware in Narberth Pennsylvania for decades. So Narberth was alike a second home to us. I remember a man who was known and loved by everyone. As a child I remember walking the streets of Narberth with him and every single passer by greeted him as if he was their best friend – because he was. Lunches and dinners at Cassell’s Inn, shoe shopping at Chimino’s, and baseball games and fireworks on Narberth’s field were staples in my childhood.
Having been in the hardware business, I remember a man who had more tools than he knew what to do with. As adults, my brother and I would visit and always end up spending time in the basement staring around at all of the tools. My dad would always yell down “what can I help you find”. And our response was usually sometime like, “we don’t know yet … we’re just shopping”.
I remember a man who worked every Saturday of his life but worked a half day many Wednesdays. On those half days, he would pick up me from elementary school, religiously. Usually without even saying anything. I would simply walk out of school and his car would be waiting.
I recall a man who could not open a gift without sticking the bow on his forehead.
From my dad, I think I learned the treasured art of “being”. He would often take time to just sit and unwind from his day. He didn’t need much to enjoy his space.
I have so many memories of tossing balls around in our front yard. And I also remember graduating from the tennis and rubber balls to actual hard baseballs! (and subsequently breaking my dad’s finger. And he even seemed proud of that for some reason).
Windex and storm windows. I’m not sure why this one stands out but I can picture me helping to clean the storm windows while my dad switched out the screens each fall. And I also remember watching Eagles football games while we tackled this annual chore.
And on the subject of sports, the man taught me everything. And I can remember being very young and trying really hard to understand what was happening while we watched the Phillies and the Eagles on TV. He was a patient teacher. And a good teacher, as evidenced by the many baseball players that he continued to coach through the years.
My dad lived for peace and harmony and wanted everyone to get along in the world.
Although it drove me crazy as a kid, as an adult I eventually learned what my dad meant when he would say “we’ll do that in a little bit”.
My dad would defend his family, tooth and nail. He loved all of us and with the birth of each new grandchild, you could see his heart grow exponentially.
Although he didn’t grow up in an advanced technological age, my dad loved his gadgets. I have friends who will still comment at the number of radios and gadgets that were always around our house.
My dad was a war hero, but didn’t enjoying talking much about those days. As a kid I would often try to pull things out of him because I was fascinated. Sometimes he would share a story or two but they were always carefully chosen and never involved the brutal reality of the actual war.
The more I write, the more I continue to remember and I realize that this list will be endless. As it should be. The great and positive memories that I have of my childhood and the relationship that I maintained with my father until he passed in 2005 are endless.
So for now I will just say “Happy Holidays dad, we thinking about you now and always”.