My Dad was a guy that worked hard came home every night, cooked and washed clothes and changed wet beds and loved us without reservation or complaint. I don’t know why,to this day my Dad loved us like he did, we were such brats. We were mean and selfish, but I guess most kids can be.
My Mother would complain. She wasn’t about liking unconditionally and she stated on more than one occasion, she would always love us, but as far as liking us, we had a way to go. She demanded certain behaviour, and for the most part got it, although we weren’t past letting her down with bump should the need for a massive fight over a pair of shoes, dresses or pants arise, well all bets were off.
Dad on the other hand was a veritable fountain of love and support. To him, we could do no wrong. Of course, when he was around we tried to keep the fights down to a minimum because we didn’t want to disillusion him as to our perfection. What a study in child psychology this was, the minute he was either out of earshot or off to one of his three jobs all hell broke loose, we’d be at each other like cats and dogs. I can remember fannies flying both up the steps and down, with assistance. At one point I can remember Dad saying if they ever did a C.S.I. investigation inside that house on West 114th, they’d put us all away on bloodstains alone. Somebody must have been murdered there! Well more than a few attempts were made on lives, basically each others, but we tried to keep that behavior from Dad. I can remember stopping mid-sentance in a fight with my sister when I heard him and the muffler at the tracks on west 114th, that meant he would be home in 5 minutes as he pulled into the driveway, we’d narrow our eyes at each other and promise…later! Not so with Mommy. We were known to wake her out of a sound sleep to get her opinion on an argument. All while she was working nights in a Nursing Home trying to get her tuition for Nursing school together.
They were a remarkable pair my parents. My father a Cleveland Police Lieutenant whose daughters thought, (by training from their mother) that he was just too gentle, kind and tired to be bothered by our bringing our fights out in front of him. If my Mother heard that we had run to Dad about pissant stuff like that when he was out there working 3 jobs to support us she’d have killed us gladly, buried the bodies and moved on. Make no mistake, this wasn’t a team effort. She was the Boss of the home and she was running guard on him, and by God when he got home nobody was going to louse up his day any further. He worked hard enough. I swear it never occurred to me until after she died, how the set up was. I always thought she’d live forever, into her 90’s or 100’s that’s not unheard of on her side. She was the Bad Cop to Daddy’s Good Cop. She was tiny and tough. And I miss her so.
My Dad was another story, he knew where the Angels lived. To this day I’m convinced he was the sweetest most gentle soul on earth. I can still remember him going from room to room in the house saying to whichever daughter he found there “there she is the prettiest smartest girl in the world!”. To each of us in sequence. With a hug and asking if there’s anything we need, could he get us a sandwich or something? My God when was the last time somebody, anybody in your family asked if they could get something for you ?
My Mother was right, his job bought him enough heartache that he had to take care of. So that whatever he had heard or coped with on his daily work, she made sure when came home, we at least tried to be good. I’m sure he was the right guy in the right place for any number of people who needed a chance to get back on the right path. Daddy had a few sayings that his honorary son “Hambone” (J.H. Tidyman) collected and passed out at his 70 th birthday party Tidy had arranaged. He passed away in 1996 fourteen yeas ago, and I still think and talk to him almost every day in my heart and Thank God, I had the likes of that wonderful man and my mean mean little Mommy…they are the best! What a tag team, and I’ll love them always, now here’s some of Dad’s sayings…
“I’d match any one of my daughters against any man.” ( 8 daughters 1 son, he was betting the odds!)
“Yes, you can use a penny in a fusebox!”
“It’s nice to be nice.”
“Don’t worry, I gave him the International Police Sign.”
“This used to be an Old Indian Trail”
“So on and so forth…”
“Even a cat can look at a Queen.”
“Stay out of the kitchen, I’m checking the gas…”
“Sheila, did you ever notice there are no bad old guys? They either reform or they die.”
found on a note taped to the side door, “Gone for surgery, don’t make a federal case out of it, I’ll be at Lakewood Hospital if you need me.” TRUE STORY
In “Cider House Rules” by John Irving, the wonderful Doctor who takes care of all the kids in the orphanage, when saying goodnight to them always says “Goodnight, you Princes of Maine, you Kings of New England …and to my Dad I say Goodnight, you Prince of my memories, you King of my Childhood, I’ll love you for always. Happy Fathers Day my Dad.