Who’s The Guy ?

I’m sitting here in my big, comfortable black leather poppa chair in the living room looking at a picture of my dad…sitting in his big comfortable poppa chair in his living room…a long time ago. He was the only hero I ever had. And that’s too bad, because you don’t really get to know the PEOPLE who are your heros. You know what they did. But you don’t really know all the reasons why they did what they did. We know that the first order George Washington gave his men when they crossed the Delaware river on Christmas Eve in 1776 was, ”Burn the boats.” Military Historians say that was so his men had no choice but to beat the Hessians at Trenton. But I wonder if he was also thinking, “Burning the damn boats will give these poor, freezing starving guys a few minutes of warmth before they go to lay down their lives for this thing we believe in.”

 We learn about Washington the hero…the gutsy, commanding guy, who used his head and won our war. But I always wondered about Washington the man, the friend, the guy…watching his troops…a bunch of other guys, some of them his friends, on that frozen, awful night as they were getting ready to die to keep freedom warm and alive in their hearts…and ours.

 Dad was a teacher. Most heros are. The things he taught were simple…and profound. He said things like “It takes real strength to be gentle.”  He said, “There’s a time for pulling yourself together, and there’s a time for letting yourself go.” He said, “Be a man.” There wasn’t any confusion about what he meant by that. As a teacher, dad knew that show was always more important than tell.  So showed me how to be a man. He always told the truth, even when he screwed up. So I never saw him get embarrassed…even when sometimes I saw him cry. He said “Big boys never cry, but big men sometimes do.” He loved to tell long, involved jokes to make me laugh. He liked laughing. Especially when the joke was on him. He was deeply religious. He said, “The rules should be very strict, but the application of them should be very loving.” He was very smart. He was a whiz at math…and music. Ooh he loved his music.

 My room was right next to the living room where he had his piano. And most nights when I was a kid, he’d tell me a story, give me a kiss on the head, and go play his piano…and sing…in that quiet, gentle powerful baritone voice.

 Dad wasn’t a big guy. I’m taller than he was. But he kept himself strong. He was always doing pushups. He was a college wrestler and a state champion quarter mile track star. He was a peaceful guy, except if anybody gave my mom a hard time. I remember that he came home once, and a delivery guy was yelling at my mom. The delivery guy was a very big, husky guy. Dad didn’t say anything. He just picked the guy up, and tossed him over the stoop. That was dad’s way of teaching me that job number one for any guy, is taking care of your woman. 

 He was a hard worker. He taught music and ran a couple of church choirs. But he always found time to play catch with me, and teach me how to run a little faster, and throw a pretty good punch. He also taught me how to play the saxaphone…a little. I didn’t have his talent. But my brother John did. And and I passed it down to my sons Dave, Eric and Mark. And he also always took time to stop at the florist shop up the block and bring my mom a rose or two. Usually, he couldn’t afford a dozen.

 Dad had five sons. But he never had a daughter…until my Lady Wonder Wench came into my life. I had my Lady, and he had his daughter. The night he died, she leaned over and kissed his forehead. He opened his eyes and he said…”That was very nice.” I think those were his last words.

 Dick’s Details Quiz. All answers are in the current podcast.

1-    If you hear a lot of heavy breathing in the middle of the night, what kind of beast is probably contacting you ?

2-    How much “meaningful conversation” does the average American parent have with the average kid ?

3-    Where did we get the idea for a “hot chick?”

 Dick’s details. They take your mind off your mind.

 I was telling you about my dad…and how he always wanted a daughter. Mom always wanted a daughter too. And My Lady Wonder Wench filled that need just as well as she did for dad. There’s a story in the Night Connections 2 album about a mother and daughter relationship. But it’s called, Daddy’s Girl. It’s in the current podcast. I know a guy who has a daughter. And he knows it. But he doesn’t have the guts to face up to being her father. He will never know that he’s missed one of the best parts of being a man. If you like this story called, Daddy’s Girl you can just keep the current podcast. Or if you want a fresh copy, just go back the home page and download if from the Night Connections icon.

 A little while ago, I said I’m almost sorry my dad was my hero… because I only saw what he did, and I never even tried to find out why he did it. I think that’s a guy thing. And it’s too bad. I don’t think I ever really knew dad very well as just…a guy. A guy with a wife and five kids…and a mortgage…and aches and pains…and hopes and fears. I never had the slightest idea about his hopes and fears. I think my Lady Wonder Wench got to know him better than I ever did. She knew him well enough to be the daughter he always wanted.

 Maybe that’s why guys always hope to have a daughter. We’d kind of like to have someone who’s smart enough and caring enough to find out not just what we do, but why we do it.

 I’m looking at his picture on the wall right now…and let me tell you…I’m taller than he was, but he was a very big guy. And he left some very big shoes to fill.

One Response to “Who’s The Guy ?”

  1. Bob Littler says:

    My Dad came here as an imigrant child. He had to quit school at 16 when his Dad died and left him with 3 sisters. He got married, started a family, got drafted into WW2 at 28 and then came home. His mother was on her death bed one night in 1953 and he told her “Mum, I just signed up at Northeastern University, Im going to become an engineer” she said “you have to promise to finish what you are starting”. so Dad went to school 3 nights a week and Saturday mornings and studied until 2 every morning, got up and went to work in a machine shop every day and two weeks before my older sister graduated from high school Dad graduated from NU with his degree in electronic engineering. Two years later he graduated from Boston University with a degree in physics. Dad bagan a career as a scientist in the space program in the 60s. He only lived until 1982, and was only 64 when he died but he will forever be the giant who that wonderful Irish tenor sings about. (John McDermott) “He was only 5’8” but he will forever be a giant in my memory.