Sunday, June 15, 2014

happy father's day

I'd better get to this post early, because this is another one of those days, chock-full to the brim with about 67% more activities than any one day should possibly contain. But why stop now? We're on a streak here.

BUT!!! I can't miss the chance to tell the world about my wonderful father, and today is tailor-made to do it. Dedicated, you might even say. My dad was hands-on from the very start, and I was a daddy's girl in return.

One of my earliest memories is sitting on the front steps of our house on Greystone Drive in Columbus Ohio, waiting for my dad to come home. I was probably there because I had gotten in trouble with my mom for some reason or another and needed a parent on my side. I have always been able to count on my dad being on my side.

Before there were studies and experts to state the obvious, my parents provided the best of examples in the dedicated reading department. You can just spot me, or at least my sock-clad feet, in the back of that picture. My dad and I did the Jumble puzzle in the paper for years, a memory that surfaces every time Terzo and I tackle the same puzzle together.

Another early tradition, that still lives on? My father working on some household project or another, with me by his side handing him tools. This pattern has transferred from his house to ours. Every house we have owned, he has been instrumentally involved in its upgrade and upkeep—including his crowning (in our minds) achievement to date: building my husband's office in what was the garage of our house twelve years ago. Just last week, he was up here measuring our barn, which is sorely in need of some attention, working out how we can side it, with his invaluable guidance, so we don't have to paint it any longer.

Thanks to his job as a human resources manager for an international chemical company, we moved around quite a bit when I was a child. This group shot was taken in Knoxville Tennessee, where my parents frequently took us into the Smoky Mountains National Park to enjoy its natural beauty and hike the extensive trails. My father hauled my and my brothers' rear ends on his back up hill and down dale until we were old enough to carry our own weight. My own family's love of hiking can be traced directly back to those excursions. Primo just signed up for his outdoor orientation for college and chose, what else? Backpacking. 

When I was 13, we moved to London, England for his job. There are few pictures of him to be found in our adventures, because he was always behind the camera. This is a rare one from the Keukenhof Gardens in Holland, when we visited with his aunts and their husbands.

He dragged our under-appreciative rear ends all over Europe, mostly in tents so we could visit as many places as possible, giving us an unmatched education and perspective on the world. My father has always considered the continuous pursuit of knowledge to be an ideal. His habits of reading a wide variety of non-fiction and talking to people from all walks of life (and having an uncanny ability to get their life stories and special perspectives within minutes of meeting them) mean that he has a relevant nugget of information to add to almost every topic of discussion. My children cite "Nonno said" as the ultimate in a reliable source.

He was in the first generation of his family to go to college; his father was an immigrant from Italy who came through Ellis Island. It was always taken for granted that all of his children would go to college, and we did. All three of us have continued beyond college for post-graduate degrees, with his unconditional encouragement and support. The photo above was taken when I graduated from law school. Though blurry, I prefer the one below.

Why stop a good thing? He has continued all of these traditions with his grandchildren. He cared for them when they were little. He has taken them hiking and camping. He has taught them how to handle tools and build things and maintain equipment. He has taken them to historical sites and museums and good restaurants and operas. He has watched their baseball games and sheep shows and cross country meets and piano recitals and plays.

My dad was Primo's primary caregiver for several years when Primo was a baby, forging a bond between them that remains strong to this day. This photo, of him showing baby Primo a family heirloom Victrola purchased by my immigrant grandfather for his family when he first started working, sums up so many years of family history. No one was prouder than my father when Primo was accepted to Princeton University.

So on his 45th anniversary of being a father—really, the man should get a medal for his continued service—I want to wish my father the happiest of Father's Days. We will be spending the holiday with the crew pictured above, all of his progeny and family by marriage, plus a little granddaughter. The gift of example that he has given all of the men and nascent men in this photo will continue to resound for many, many years.


  1. What a marvelous post, Kris. All of you are so lucky to have him in your lives!

  2. Kris - I just now saw this post. What a wonderful tribute to a great man! (Okay, he nailed his place as one of my favorites years ago when he explained how your law school classmate had teen-aged kids since I was sold into marriage when I was 9!) The photos are a family history! Absolutely beautiful!