Today is my daddy's birthday. If he were still alive, he would be 96 today, but he passed away in June 2008. I miss him every single day. He was a wonderful man. He worked very hard at two jobs to provide for our family & also took care of all the upkeep of our home. When he wasn't working, he loved to read, work on crossword puzzles, build & fix things, & tend his garden. He had a huge vegetable garden & was so proud when his crops came in! He also enjoyed cooking & baking. He was a cook & baker when he served in the Merchant Marine during WWII. Here he is sometime during his tour of duty, standing on the main street of our town, Blawnox, Pennsylvania ... a suburb of Pittsburgh.
For reasons unknown to me, the government did not accept the Merchant Marine as being "real service" to our country, so when dad was discharged from the MM, he joined the Army. He wrote on the back of the photo below "Me at work in Aid Station."
As I mentioned above, dad loved to read. I remember him reading to me when I was a little girl. One time in particular, when I wasn't even in school yet, I remember sitting with him on the couch. He was holding a book in his hands, ready to read to me, & telling me that soon I would be able to read to him! I used to sit on his shoulders as he carried me up the stairs singing "Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it's off to bed we go." He taught me how to ride my bike. He built a sandbox for me in our yard, & swings & teeter-totters at our cabin. Those swings hung from the limbs of very tall trees. I would say "come push me daddy" & he would grasp the back of the swing seat, move back, & then go running so that he ran underneath the swing seat & I swung very, very high. I think this gave my mother more than a few gray hairs : ) I remember once upon a time when I was very tiny ... we were still living in the upstairs of our home because he & his friends were building it a bit at a time ... & him telling me something was hiding somewhere for me. I looked around & found some malted milk balls! No doubt this is where my love affair with candy began : )
The photo below was taken at our cabin in Marienville, PA. It was a lovely place even though I was allergic to something there & developed childhood asthma (we found out later that I was allergic to mold & something I can no longer remember). The nights were the worst of it, but things weren't too bad for me during the day. I can't remember this photo being taken but it was obviously in the fall & dad apparently raked up piles of leaves so we could jump in them. I kind of look a little bit like Scout from the movie "To Kill A Mockingbird," don't I? Anyway, see that cute little cocker spaniel that dad is holding? Her name is Midnight. Midnight was my gift on my 7th birthday.
Here are me & dad a couple years later at Lolita Beach ... a little swimming lake in Marienville. My right arm looks almost as long as my body, doesn't it : )
Family was very important to dad. This is a photo of him & his mother, my grandma, on a very special day. I can't remember if it's the day that my cousin Jimmy was ordained as a priest (that's Jimmy wearing glasses in the background), or if it was the day my cousin Susie, Jimmy's sister, became a nun.
John & I had four children. Two are in heaven because they were born too early to survive (Michael at 4-1/2 months & John at 5-1/2 months), but Kati & Matt are here on earth & they were the apples of dad's eye. He absolutely adored them. John had a job transfer to Florida two years after we married & dad & mom moved to the town next to us about two years later when Kati was about a year old. Here are dad, Kati & Matt taking a break from swimming in dad's pool.
Dad was very, very sad when John & I moved to Montana a few years later. Just a short time before we decided to make the move, a little girl came trotting by dad's house on this pony. She stopped to say hello & mentioned that she had to be sell the pony. Dad was looking into buying the pony for Kati, but that didn't happen since we made the decision to move away. At least Kati got to sit on the pony for a while : ) I don't know if she remembers this. I'll have to ask her.
Dad was always making jokes & being funny. Here he is clowning in his back yard.
Dad loved dogs. He is relaxing here with his best friend, Tracy. Tracy was his constant companion for many years. She even saved dad & Matt from a rattlesnake once when they were hiking in a nearby wooded area! It broke dad's heart when he had to put her down.
I mentioned that dad liked to build & fix things & also liked to cook. Here he is in his later years doing both. Do you see that large gardenia bush near dad's tool shed? John bought me that as a small potted plant one year. When it got too big for its pot, we gave it to mom & dad to plant in their yard. It smelled like heaven when it was in bloom : )
After my mother passed away in 2005, dad's health declined. He was unable to do much of anything toward the end except sit in his recliner or in a lawn chair on his deck. It was very sad to see this once strong man who was always busy doing something being unable to even walk a few steps without needing to stop to catch his breath. This was the result of years of working as a welder in a steel mill, not having the adequate protection for his health.
After my mother passed away, John & I wanted dad to come live with us but he didn't want to leave Florida. He always referred to it as "paradise." I therefore started calling dad every day at 5 o'clock, just to say hello & to make sure he was okay. For over a year after he died, there were still times when I would find myself looking at the clock & thinking "it's almost time to call dad" & then remember I couldn't do that anymore. The woman my brother & I had hired to look after dad told me that he always looked forward to those daily calls. He would watch the clock & wait for them. I would always end the calls by saying "I love & miss you dad," & he would respond with "I love & miss you too honey." If you think the tears are rolling down my face by now, you are right.
Happy Birthday Daddy! I love & miss you more than you know.