Most people have memories of their dads bouncing them on one knee or holding their hand as they crossed the street on the first day of school. Not me. My memories of my dad involve a lot of parties and a lot of people. Our house was the party house, music flowed freely from the speakers (usually something by the Commodores, Kool and the Gang or Roberta Flack)…empty Bull cans formed neat little pyramids all over the place by dad’s friends who thought they’d entertain us by showing off their stacking skills. But, most of all, I remember watching my dad and his friends roll their “special” cigarettes. They’d sit at the coffee table, an album cover (usually one of our Disney records) on the table with weed in one pile and the seeds in another, white rolling papers, roach clip and a lighter nearby. Many years later, Dad and I would laugh because I told him I was in my twenties before I found out those little black and gray canisters were for film–I thought everyone was smoking pot!
But there was also a sensitive artistic side to my dad. His writing was artistic and flowy, full of flourishes and loops. Often times I am complimented on my writing and I give credit to my dad because he is the one who held my hand and patiently taught me all of the intricacies of cursive writing. Later, I would see this same attention to detail in his drawings.
My dad worked in a variety of mediums, but his best work was always the simple pen and ink doodles he did while thinking thoughts he never shared with me (or, I’m sure, with anyone else). I wish that I had held onto those drawings, instead they ended up where all other scraps of paper end up, in the circular file cabinet. He always did that, spent an incredible amount of time working on his drawings only to toss them or leave them sitting in a corner to collect dust. He never appreciated his talent until it was gone.
I left my dad to live with my mother, stepfather and sisters in Italy when I was ten years old. Little did I know it would be over fourteen years before I’d see him again.
I remember looking at him, searching for some semblance of the man I had known and loved growing up. As a little girl I remembered him being over 6 feet tall, the man who stood before me was barely 5 foot 10. I remembered him being lean with a full head of reddish brownish black hair, this stranger was balding and close to 300 lbs. Who was this man, standing before me, holding out his arms to embrace me? Then I saw it, that spark of mischief in his eyes…And it all came back to me, this is my dad…
So as I prepare to say good bye to you for one last time, I want to say thank you for making me the creative, eccentric, ballsy, loud-mouthed woman that I am today. I love you, Daddy, rest in peace.