Tuesday, November 22, 2022


 A lot of times when I think of Dad the mental picture I have of him is of the way he looked nearly everyday, dressed in work clothes, mostly in green but sometimes gray and wearing low cut tan work boots with white sox. A pack of Camels would be in the shirt chest pocket and he’d be sitting at the kitchen table, coffee mug in hand as he looked out the window. That’s how I usually found him when I got up for breakfast in the morning or when I came out to the kitchen just before dinner to help set the table. It’s appropriate that I see him in my minds eye dressed for work because except for the last month of his life Dad was a worker. As I’ve said before, he was born up in Bethel, Oxford County, Maine and grew up in Upton and Wilson’s Mills. He left there to enlist in the Army during World War 2 and ended up living the rest of his life down here in Massachusetts. But I think he was still a Mainer at heart. He listened more than talked in conversations, nodding or smiling at whatever someone said, then would finally make a comment or ask a question before going back into listener mode. A typical taciturn Mainer. Dad worked hard all his life at various jobs: landscaping; a stint in the fledgling electronics industry at Atlas Engineering, and LFE: Railway Express; and the Post Office. But for most part he worked in the glass business installing windshields, mirrors, and windows. He was good with his hands at building and repairing things. When we moved into the house in Abington he extended the concrete front steps of the house, converted the breezeway into another room complete with sliding glass doors, and built a playroom in the cellar that became my new bedroom after my little brother was born and my old bedroom was turned into Phil's nursery. He was not much for a display of emotions but he was there for us kids to put together toys and bikes and as we grew older to help us when our cars broke down. When Phil came along Dad almost acted out the joke about the nervous expectant father. Mom told him it was time and he got the suitcase in the car and was out the driveway before he realized he that had left Mom standing on the breezeway. If Dad had any regrets I think one might have been washing out of the Air Corps back during the war; he couldn’t take high altitude. When we were living in Malden he’d sometimes bring Cheryl and I over to the small Revere Airport to watch the planes land and take off. Maybe he was thinking of what might have been while sitting there in the car? Dad and Mom were quite active in the VFW from the mid 1960’s on and they were fixtures at the Saturday night dances at the Hall. Dad usually wore his blue blazer or tan sport coat for those. I don’t recall him as dancing to many fast dances when I saw him dance but slow songs would find him out there dancing with Mom. Life was never all that particularly easy for my folks financially. Like a lot of folks they had ups and downs and often were working more than one job. But they kept us fed and clothed and healthy. They were just ordinary people raising their family as best they could. One day after Dad died the song “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” came on the radio and Mom teared up. That's how I found out it was one of Dad’s favorite songs and that when they played it at the Saturday Dances Dad would actually sing it along with Mom as they danced. Dad? Singing? But I’ve thought about the lyrics to the song a few times since then and the more I thought about it I realized how that song fit my Dad: Raindrops keep fallin' on my head But that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turnin' red Cryin's not for me' Cause I'm never gonna stop the rain by complainin' Because I'm free Nothin's worryin' me -words by Hal David, music by Burt Bacharach @1969

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