For those who expected a political rant, you will be disappointed. Today, I am writing of a true life love story. Not a story of strangers, by a stranger, but one about me and my Dad. To those who seek dirt and decadence, look elsewhere. You will be let down. What has prompted me to write about my Dad, is that today, hundreds of miles away, he underwent cancer surgery, and I couldn’t be there. Guilty conscious? Maybe, but he knows and understands what has kept me away. I spoke to him and Mom several times today and have passed the updates to my younger brother and sister all through the day. Never once did my family doubt my love and devotion to them, nor did I ever once try to hide my love for each of them. That is true family!
It started more than 50 years ago, in a rural hospital on Long Island, New York, when I was born. Although, I was the second child of my parents, John and Rita, I was the first girl born in my father’s family in seven generations of boys only. When the doctor came into the “Fathers Waiting Room” (back then Dad’s didn’t go into the birthing room or anywhere near it!) and told my Dad, you have a healthy baby girl, my Father cried. He cried out, before asking about Mom, “She’s going to get married and leave me!” The Doctor tried to comfort him, “Uh, Mr. K**** your wife is Okay, too”, or did he ever hear the rest of the doctor’s words?
I have known Dad to cry only twice in my life. On the day I was born and the day we laid his father to rest. He didn’t cry when his mother died, because my grandfather was already suffering from dementia and he feared causing him more confusion and pain. On that final day, he grieved for both of his parents
Dad, got a little better as the years went on. Mom added another brother and sister to make a four pack. Two boys and two girls. Yet, somehow, I remained Daddy’s little girl, despite his attempt to be impartial with each of us.
I could write volumes about both sets of my grandparents, but I only needed to give you some of my Dads’ family background.
As a child, Dad saw one of his friends killed, when the boy got off of the school bus and ran in front of it. From that day forward, Dad suffered from a stuttering problem, which, when excited it becomes pronounced. Growing up, I too, had the stuttering problem and have worked hard to overcome it.
When WWII broke out, Dad was still in school. His mother refused to let him enlist. However, upon the day he turned 18, Grandma had no longer a voice or choice. Dad enlisted. One minor problem. On the day Dad was born, the doctor was in a hurry and never got the new born baby’s name properly entered on the birth certificate. Standing in formation, just off the bus and ready for induction, the Drill Instructor called out Dad’s birth certificate name… Baby Boy K***, OOPS!
Never was a legal name change done so fast, all the while going through boot camp! Dad also, served in Germany. Uncle Sam has a funny sense of humor!
Dad had an ability to work with electronics, which earned him an ARMY teaching position, when technology was just expanding. As a civilian, Dad was a maverick and had his own TV and Radio repair business during the late 50’s and early 60’s. It wasn’t until the 80’s when Mom and Dad had to buy their first Television. We always watched broadcasts on cast-offs or repaired sets. With a growing family, Dad was forced to seek job stability and was hired by a major HiFi producer and marketing company. But to get ahead, he needed a college degree. Now, Dad worked during the day and went college at night. Mom worked at night at the local hospital and took of care of us during the day.
It was, what I call the revolving door days or today they would call us “latch key kids”. As a kid, we did everything that they tell kids not to do today. Running through woods, playing ball in the street, disappearing for hours without telling anyone. But, we completed our homework and household chores first, raised hell later. During those early years, I was just starting elementary school. Dad would come home with math problems. He wrote a few and watched as I solved them. I didn’t know it then, but I was already doing algebra before I even mastered the school mandated multiplication table. Words fascinated me and listening to Mom and Dad’s friends at the house parties and dinner table conversation, gave me a strong verbal basis.
We, each of the four kids, were encouraged to read a book and the newspaper each day and be ready to talk about it, until my older brother proved to be hard wired as a liberal and dinner conversations soon became fights. Soon, when each of us were old enough to go our own way, family holiday gatherings became the only time we all were together. Growing up, each of us took up a musical instrument. I chose the violin, my two brothers took brass instruments, my sister a woodwind. When speaking about music, its’ composition, sounds and performances, my father and I were soul mates. Math and music, yes they are joined and matched.
Ah, but Dad was more. He taught us how to repair the TV and radio, when tube TVs and radios were the rage. He taught us how to build a skate board and soap box car as well as a snow fort. He took us fishing and taught us to swim. He built us a sand box, a swing set and found the money for a backyard pool. All the while, he worked hard and still went to night school. Yet, I cannot forget the love and care he gave his own parents and his in-laws. But that is a book, in its-self.
On the day I was set for my Dad giving me my first driving lesson, I bopped out of the house all ready to slide behind the steering wheel. Dad had another idea in mind. The hood stood open and a tool box lay out near the front tire. Smile on his face, Dad said, “You are going to file and re-gap the spark plus, rotate the tires, tune the engine, change the oil and adjust the headlights before you even think about getting behind the wheel.” A face full of oil and a day later, I put the car in reverse and proceeded to take out a wall of the garage. Driving lesson was over that day. After repairing the wall, we pulled out just fine, but every time he said left, I turned right, and every time he said right, I turned left. What do you expect? Mom and Big Brother are left handed, Dad and I are right. Well, in truth, I am ambidextrous, so it is confusing. Dad had me park the car, he stormed into the house and came out with a red magic marker, To this day, I can still fell the marking as he wrote a big L on my left hand and an R on my right hand. Only then, did the driving lesson continue. (By the way, I passed on the first test. Took my little sister three times to pass the driving test. Funny, she was top ten in the Bar Exam on first try. Must be a spatial thing?)
My older brother got the Pell Grants to attend college. By the time I entered college, our family was not eligible. My Dad was the first person in his family to graduate college and he struggled to pay for it and support a growing family. I was the first grandchild to get a college degree. Despite any lack of funding, I worked, at times, three jobs and paid my way, without loans or grants, just like my Dad.
One day, my girlfriend and I wanted to go out dancing. I borrowed five dollars from my father. One week later, I hadn’t repaid it. He stood before me with his hand out and asked me for his five dollars. Powerful lesson! Never borrow what you can’t or wont pay back. More important, never let your loved ones down.
I can go on about our family, but it would be a book. I could talk about Dad’s sorrow as his mother slowly deteriorated and his father as he slowly succumbed to dementia, or their slow painful passing. I could also speak of my Grandfather ( Mom’s Dad) needing constant blood transfusions, he suffered from cancer, and my parents driving hours each way to donate blood, all the while they took care of Dad’s parents, their pressing needs, Dad had time for his own wife and us.
For hours, I could tell you of how he taught me in the 60’s, when girls were discouraged to do so, to throw a baseball, football, ride a skate board, snow sled and make a mean snowball. He built me a doll house and taught me to dance. Even when busy with work and school, he showed up at my school plays, recitals and found music scores and recordings to educate and please me. I knew how to swing a hammer, saw, rewiring, plumb the basics, work a garden, paint, sand and much more. He made sure I was self sufficient. When I wrecked the family car, he was more concerned about my health than the car, well until the insurance estimate came in.
Today, well by the time this is written, Dad has already gone through prostrate cancer surgery. It was very scary with his severe heart complications. He’s is now doing well. He’s a fighter. Thank the LORD, he is doing fine. He’ll be 83 this year and everyday I cherish his being and his love. I cannot imagine a day in my life without both my mother or my father. Dear GOD, please keep them healthy for a very long time, I love them too much to lose them!