Posted by: laughs4dads | February 26, 2010

My Father

Last week would have been my father’s 86th birthday.  He passed away in 2005.

We were never very close, dad and I, and even less so when he and mom moved to Florida about 20 years ago.  The best memory I have of him is rooting for the Mets together during their championship run in 1969.

Don’t get me wrong; he wasn’t a bad father by any means.  There was certainly no abuse, no alcoholism, no abandonment, none of that Lifetime movie stuff.  He just wasn’t that involved with me, in that very 50’s style of fathering.

Actually, my father wasn’t very involved with anything that went on around him.  That was because he wasn’t very aware of what was going on around him.   And he never seemed to care  to increase his awareness.  He had a hearing impairment which he turned into as much of an asset as a handicap, since he discovered early on that a hearing aid could be just as useful in tuning people out as in tuning them in.

My father worked hard.  I sit at a keyboard for eight hours and I’m exhausted.  He woke up at 5am, loaded a refrigerated truck with processed meat products, and drove it around New York City all day, in all kinds of weather.  But only in one kind of neighborhood.

Bad neighborhoods.  The ones big distributors wouldn’t enter.  He saved the worst neighborhood–in the South Bronx–for the last stop on Friday.  On the way there, Bernard Hallen, the financial wiz behind B&H Provisions–would pull the truck over and pay his partner his cut for the week.  In cash.  That way, my father reasoned, if they got robbed, it wouldn’t be coming out of the company’s pocket.

I rode with him occasionally.  After a day in bitter cold or broiling hot weather, stepping in and out of the refrigerator, hauling box after box of bologna and bacon and olive loaf and head cheese (the actual contents of which my father mercifully refused to divulge), my teenaged body was one big ache.  My father, meanwhile, was often headed out for a second job.

The man worked hard.  And he probably didn’t enjoy the fruits of his labor as much as he should have.  I’ve tried to learn from that.

The guy had a sense of humor, though.  But it, like his fathering style, was clearly 1950s vintage.  So I guarantee you that if there’s a heaven, and if people belch there, Bernie Hallen will say “Bring that up at the next meeting.”

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Responses

  1. Mark, I cried at the end of this piece. Your father was a mench and back then they didn’t know how they could be more involved with there kids other than sports. He was also exhausted probably.

    I really enjoy your writing


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