Dancin' on daddy's shoes
Dancin' all around the room
Rollin' the rug upâkickin' our heels up
Dancin' away the blues...........................Leon Redbone
As Father's Day approaches I thought I would give a big shout out to all you Dads out there. It is not easy being the Dad - after all even the best of you don't get the same credit as being the Mom (as it should be says this Mom). I had a turbulent relationship with my own Dad, he was a fairly moody guy so this is not that surprising to anyone who knew us well. As I get older and am past being mad, sad, quick to blame and all the other negatives that really have been discussed and put (where they belong) in the past I can now glance back at my relationship with him and remember the times (and there were many) where I loved being with my Dad.
I remember Saturdays with my Dad. When I was young my Mom worked and he did not on that day. We would wake up and after he let me watch cartoons, I cleaned the house (ok I dusted) while he played music. Music was very important to him. He would play a lot of different albums. He was proud of his stereo system, with it's turntable that could hold a few records on the spindle and drop them down as needed. It had rectangular adapter, of course we also had the multi-colored spindles that were for individual 45s, so you could even stack 45s. I went record shopping with him a lot in Astoria and in the city. To this day I cook, do laundry or just move around the house with music on. I remember both of us dancing around the house to the Saturday Night Fever album. He loved Romanian music, a lot of it pre-Communist, older music where people loved deeply and hurt even deeper. I remember him sitting for hours and looking at different albums to create mix tapes that he brought to parties. He was meticulous in recording them so that you had some dancing, some conversation background, with pauses built in by him between songs. His fancy stereo that you did not need to be quiet for when he recorded which apparently was a big deal as many lesser models recorded everything not just the music. These Saturdays were some of my best times with my Dad. After the chores, we would often walk, a lot, in the city while waiting for my Mom to get out of work. He often took me to the movies during this time. I can still remember that we saw Star Wars together at the Zigfield ..funny how you remember these things even after over 30 years.
Speaking of movies my Dad and I had a bug for horror and scary movies. My mom would go to sleep, warning him that I better not get nightmares, as she left us to watch Channel 9 Chiller Thriller movies (by today's Saw slasher standard these were mild, mostly Vincent Price affairs) with it's six fingered hand coming out of a grave introduction. The poor guy took me to see Deliverance when I was like 9 and promptly threw my coat over my face during the "squeal" scene. It took me years to find out that they did not "kill a baby pig", that's what he told me he was shielding me from. I do not like horror movies today much because there is no suspense and too much torture...but I still get shudders when I think back at watching the Amytiville Horror with him (maybe that is why I never wanted to move to Long Island...nah let's not blame that on him too).
There were the Sundays at the beach. I recently read a blog that read so similar to my own life that it made smile. Only obviously that writer's Father was not an immigrant as he took her to a deli for an egg sandwich (not a kid in my neighborhood of immigrants had that experience) unlike my family who cooked eggs and a big buffet that was packed in a cooler for the beach, complete with a little salt and pepper carefully packed in Reynolds Wrap. My Dad loved to swim in the ocean with me and I got my lifelong love of the beach from him.
I learned from the man who loved to learn. He was notorious for pop quizzes for my friends and I ..do believe all of us learned more geography from him than from school. A master of the"look it up" answer and when I did not want to of the "don't make me have you write it a 100 times" discipline. He would have loved the internet with instant ability to get information ....and I am so his daughter as I use it often to look up things and show my own sons how to get information.
I spent a lot of Sundays and weekends with him when my parents got divorced - some of these times were full of fights (my wanting to grow up and his need to win an argument a deadly combination at times) and yet others were times when we traveled to Europe or just talked or he tried to understand what I was learning at college (he would have liked to go to University) and those are the Sundays that I look back on more these days.
Our relationship was not "easy" but it was what made who I am as well as identified for me what I do not want to be. I miss my Dad when he was his best. I miss his great sense of humor and ability to be funny on the spot. I miss the fact that he never got to meet his grandsons. As Father's Day approaches I guess what I do most though is not just miss him but rather smile at all the memories we had. I choose to not forget the times when he was not the father I wanted because it allows me to enjoy the father he was at his best as well. I realized I love many of the things he did too in his life, music, laughter, learning, being social, a good political argument, the beach, fine dining, my mother and for that I will always be Gigi's daughter whose heart always has a special spot for Daddy.