Today is Father’s Day and even though I no longer have anyone to buy a card for, I can’t help but read through the choices until I find one that would have amused My Dad.
My father, Frank Friedman, would take forever to read his cards. He would make a big production out of it. Like most things involving my father it could go from entertaining to irritating depending on my age and mood.
As a teenager almost everything my father did embarrassed me. He would dominate conversations with my friends. He cracked silly jokes. He pinched my mother’s behind while she washed dishes. He ate food while standing in front of the refrigerator instead of sitting at the table. He would burp out loud and say it was a compliment to the chef. He watched old outdated TV shows. He was grumpy when he got home from work (after a one hour drive from Brooklyn to Long Island). Wow… he was just awful.
I got older and my father got a bit less embarrassing.
My father took me for an introductory flying lesson when I was 17 even though he was terrified of heights. He took me to see “The Godfather” in the theater when it first came out. He took me fishing (my brother was too young). He threatened to “take care of” anyone who made me cry.
My father quit school in the 9th grade but he was very smart. He read a lot, and had a talent for writing, drawing and storytelling. Believe me, he could tell a story. My dad would talk about any subject endlessly as if he were an expert. Again– sometimes entertaining, sometimes annoying. The thing was that you could challenge his facts and argue with him and he loved it. This just extended the conversation.
Like many dads my father just wanted a peaceful household. “Please don’t upset your mother” was pretty much all he asked of us. As children growing up in the 70s we did our fair share of upsetting. My sister was particularly good at reeking havoc. What is it with firstborns? When my mother was at wits end with my sister, my father made it very clear that his wife came first. There was no working one parent against the other in our house. Despite any bickering, they were a team. If my sister could not play by the rules then she would be asked to leave (she was 18, by the way.)
There were times when I couldn’t understand why my parents were married. They seemed to argue all the time. I would think my mother was mean to my dad and picked on him. Then I would see her getting his dinner and making sure we were quiet when he got home late from work. My father would make lunch for my mother for work and write a funny nickname for her on the bag. All the ladies at her job thought she had the best husband! Once I made some sarcastic remark about my dad and my mother attacked me for it: “That is my husband you are talking about!”
My father was not flirty with other women. Oh, he would tell me which celebrity was a “hot broad” but he was quite devoted to my mother. He loved his kids and his grandkids, but his wife was his world. He told me that your children will leave, as they should. It ends up being just you and your spouse. Your partner is your priority.
On this Father’s Day I realize my father was in no way a perfect man, but he was a superior father. My girls are lucky enough to have the same quality in their dad, because it just so happens I married a man very much like my dad. Except for the burping thing.
“The best thing a man can do for his children is to love their mother.“