There is a proverb that says, "When a father praises his son, he flatters himself," which could probably apply to daughters, too. But my father never really praised me – not with words. It was my mother who continually praised me – and was my best friend.
My father has been gone for ?20 years, and since then I have ?been replaying our relationship – trying to figure out how I could have enjoyed a better relationship with him.
We often discover people through others' eyes. My father ?was a good man, according to his best friend, Bill. Although my ?father never complimented me, ?he was very proud of me, according to Bill. However, I remember that whenever I brought home a good report card, he would say, "You ?can do better … so that you can amount to something."
I suppose he was glad when I graduated, but his pride stopped him from celebrating with me when I received my master's degree.
He and my aunt had a dis-agreement over the windows ?in the room where she was staying when she visited to attend the ceremony. (Actually, their problems started when she would not loan him money to buy ?some property in Grand Island – his dream was to live near ?water.) Also, he was upset that ?I had accepted a teaching job ?in Hawaii.
When I left for Hawaii, my father barely shared any loving goodbyes. For two years he never visited me.
But even though we were not what I would call close, my father had a lasting influence on my life. He was largely responsible for my becoming a teacher.
Originally, I wanted to be a journalist, which would have ?meant leaving Western New York to attend college. Because of financial limitations, I instead attended Buffalo State, at that time a tuition-free college. While there, I enjoyed ?a successful student teaching experience and decided to become an English teacher. I hoped to ?save money to travel abroad in ?the summers.
I think my father was glad ?when I returned to Buffalo to get married, but when he found out that my Air Force husband-to-be and I would be spending three years in Germany, he wasn't his most pleasant self. Most fathers help pay for their daughter's wedding. ?Not mine!
Instead, my mother and I planned and paid for a modest but meaningful reception.
And when the time ?came, my father had to do ?the party after the reception his way in our Cheektowaga home. We had a fun and ?flavorful gathering – even though the refrigerator ?gave out the day before, ?and the ham caught fire on ?the grill.
[JUMP] Speaking of cooking ?skills, some say I developed mine from my father. Maybe … if enthusiasm is considered. Although he, a blue-collar worker, liked what he called "workingman's food," he ?would spend money for ?the best quality. Always ?butter! Margarine was not allowed in our home. Also, no bottled salad dressings were allowed on the dining table, something that continues to this day.
Another tie that binds is ?the work ethic. As mentioned, my father wanted to rest by ?the water in retirement. One day he came home and announced to my mother, "We're going to Florida. Pack your bags." She had no say in this. He bought a house in Florida, but still he never rested; he worked usually ?from sun up to sun down, ?even building a Florida ?room on the home in St. Petersburg.
Now, because of their grandfather, both our children live in Florida. I decided to keep my parents' house, and now my husband and I spend ?a little time there. This year ?we moved all of the stored furnishings and decorations from the garage, so the inside looks like a vintage shrine to my parents.
In doing this, I think ?I came to some closure on family relationships. Years ?ago, I would never have seen myself re-creating a home atmosphere from a half century ago.
I forgave my father, for ?his actions done and not ?done, and I hope that he ?and my mother are looking down from Heaven and know that I love them. Happy Father's Day!