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Blog: Happy Father’s Day By »

June 23rd, 2017

Historically men have been the family ‘providers’ and the women were the ‘caregivers’ whom maintained the home. I’ve heard stories of how men never really had a hand in the day to day upbringing of their children, or even changed a diaper, because it just wasn’t their ‘role’. I honestly can’t even imagine life without my husband helping me wipe bums, give baths, discipline at dinner, play at the park, sit in the backyard kiddie pool, tie skates, rock the baby to sleep, etc, etc. Dad’s get a bad rap sometimes for being in the bathroom for 30 minutes (seriously though, what do they do in there?), leaving drawers open that can dislocate your hip, or not remembering a diaper bag or bib when they leave the house…and yes, even though these things at the time of the crime are quite annoying, at the end of the day, dad’s are just such important people in our lives.

This Father’s Day, I reflected on the men whom I cherished during my upbringing. I was fortunate enough to grow up with both my grandfathers, and have many fond memories of the time we spent together growing up. We called my paternal grandfather Nonno, and we still call my maternal grandfather Pa.

My Nonno lived in Sault Ste. Marie, so we really only saw him and my Grandma when we visited in the summer, or during the Christmas holidays. He always complained to my parents that he didn’t get to see us that often, so I truly don’t know how we weren’t the inventors of FaceTime!

In a nutshell, he had no patience, was an escapee of the war, walked with a cane because a stroke took all movement from his left side before I was born, never wanted me to play soccer (because it was a boy’s game!), wanted me to become a judge (because I’m bossy, and he saw that at 8 years old!), taught me how to eat a grapefruit with a cool jagged spoon, was a grocery shopping expert and a ‘price-matcher’ before that concept even existed, got a kick out of women fighting on Jerry Springer (!) and LOVED to play cards. The problem with the card playing though was that he never let me play with him unless it was for money. Money like 10 cents a game, but when I was 8 with no allowance, I didn’t have spare money hanging around and never wanted to tap into my piggy bank stash. I would always cry, but he never gave in. I was too cheap – and he was too stubborn. In hind sight, as much as it irked me as a child that I never got to play, he basically taught me the value of a dollar. Deposit – don’t withdraw, AND, little did I know at the time but he was also trying to deter me from really learning the game, so that gambling wasn’t in my future (because it was a vice of his).

My Nonno passed away right before my grade 8 graduation, and I truly wish we would have had more time together so that I could have appreciated him more and so that he could have seen me grow up…though I’m sure he was saying, “I told you she shouldn’t be playing sports!” to someone up in heaven when I broke my leg playing football in grade 12.

My Pa, who just turned 87, is an immigrant from Italy who made his living as a railroad foreman at Dofasco, is painstakingly patient, loves watching terribly dubbed Italian soap operas (which, might I add, are much more R rated than any of our soap operas!), the news, and wrestling…yes wrestling! Back in the day, he loved the Undertaker and doing impressions of Ric Flair!

My favourite memory however, was probably being around 7 years old, and lying on the couch with him as he watched Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting show. This Bob guy seriously had the most soothing voice (find him on YouTube!) and I was always in awe of how easily he dabbed his canvas to make trees! Anyways, I would just lie on my Pa’s chest and listen to his heart beat as we watched television. That ‘lub-dub’ sound of his heart beating and Bob’s voice, always seemed to calm me down and make me go to sleep.

 

My father was, and still is, a very hard worker. He is creative, impatient (this trait passes down from generation to generation unfortunately!), musically inclined, a sports lover (both to play and watch), philanthropist, devout Catholic and super handy (like how do dad’s know what the noise from the toilet is, how to diagnose car problems, how to butcher meat, and then always have the right tools for the job I’m attempting to do??).

He taught me how to properly wash and wax a car – but not without frustration…

“Vic, did you Windex the car windows?”

“Yeah dad, why?”

“It sure doesn’t look like it! Did you do it in the sun?”

“Yeah the car’s on the driveway, so the sun was on it”

“Well that’s why. You don’t wash windows in the sun! (and then his famous line would come out) What did I send you to school for?”

“Um….Kinesiology” LOL.

He would always say, ‘What did I send you to school for?’ when we couldn’t figure something out that he categorized as common sense.  His other famous saying was just as annoying (!), but always rang true…”After laugh comes cry!”

He encouraged us to play the piano and appreciate all sorts of music (especially the ‘oldies’, which I still love to this day!), and to respect ourselves and most of all give back to others. One of my favourite childhood memories was around Christmas time when we would put baskets of food together, through the church and the Knights of Columbus, and deliver them to families in need within our community. It was such a humbling experience, and one I am definitely passing on to my children.

He came to all of our sports games and was easily identifiable as he walked up and down the sidelines with a cigar in his mouth and constant yells of encouragement or disapproval (he was scolded by the refs many a time!)

My favourite memory though was how he used to brush my long hair. My mother (as I know now, but didn’t realize then) had a million other things to get done during our bedtime routine, so brushing my hair was supposed to be fast and efficient. Well, fast and efficient with tangled long hair, hurt like heck! So my father would grab my hair in a ponytail and slowly from the bottom, start to brush out my knots. Gently. Slowly. Patiently. Yes it took double the time, but I didn’t have a headache at the end of it, and the job still got done the way only a dad could do it.

Even though many men are still the ‘providers’ for their household or are the apparent ‘tough-ones’, it absolutely melts my heart when I see a man with a child. I have never felt more love, pride or happiness, than when I see my husband with our children. Whether he’s carrying, bathing or playing on the floor with them, reading a book while sitting scrunched up in a fort, singing silly songs, or cuddling on the couch watching Aladdin for the millionth time, I love to watch them make their own memories with daddy.

As the men in my life did, and my husband continues to do today, it’s important that dads, grandfathers, uncles and Godfathers never hesitate to hug their children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, etc, high-five them, kiss them, tell them that they love them, that they are proud of them, and even occasionally disappointed in a decision or angry at defiance. Children need these forms of acknowledgement from these men, these mentors, and I’m very grateful that I have so many great memories with the strong men whom were, and still are in my life.

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