My dad is not perfect. No human being is perfect. My dad grew up in Scranton, PA in a humble home. His father was a barber who kept his shop in the basement of their Myrtle Street home. Life was not easy for dad and his 4 siblings. Alcohol was a catalyst in the levity and Irish working class violence in their family home.
My dad worked very hard to move beyond his humble beginnings as did his siblings.
The Navy was a stepping stone to the GI Bill and college like so many of his generation. He served between two conflicts and thus saw no combat. He brought home Japanese cameras and mastery in bed making service rather than internal/external battle wounds. College was next after which, 25 years teaching young men and women Algebra, Trigonometry, and Calculus at Newburgh Free Academy High School. Next dad taught computer science (Fortran, Pascal and C++) at Broome Community and SUNY Binghampton. His sons remember all the work he performed, including going on to acquire two Masters Degrees after his BS in Electrical Engineering.
His sons now cherish the chain of physical child abuse he broke with Herculean restraint. Not once did he touch us with his hand nor a belt. Punishments were administered by whacking the bed next to us rather than our bodies. My dad is a hero to so many in the town he now resides. My dad’s life is one of service to others: driving vets to the VA most mornings, tax planning and preparation for moderate income folks, building wheelchair access to women’s rape crisis centers and local credit unions. My taught me the most valuable lesson of all, treat everyone you meet as if they were the only one in the world who mattered to you, each moment. Make friends first. Enemies may come but effort not to make one. My dad taught me the cure for depression, working hard and making others laugh.
My dad is still alive. I told him all of this today. Tributes while alive are much better than eulogies when dead. Today he sings with 5 Choirs, helps prepares tax returns for so many people, drives friends and vets where they need to go and writes beautiful, long hand thank you notes. The engineer with Proustian prose.
My dad is not perfect. He is famous for getting us lost in search of the cheapest gallon of gas or lowest price draft beer. My dad has a tendency to talk while driving, turning his head back to you in the back seat for long, agonizing moments. No one injured or killed in any of these blessed moments My dad is not perfect. My dad is my dad. I am proud to call myself his son.