Father's Day is a special day we recognize that singular relationship and thank our Dad's for always being there.
My father was a wonderful man, funny, sweet, smart, with a head full of wisdom that made me feel safe. He always knew the right thing to do. While he wasn't a traditional American dad like the rest of my friends had, we had a wonderful bond.
He was born in Europe, surviving World War Two to emerge alone, his family murdered along with most of his cousins, uncles, aunts, even a ninety-six year old grandfather.
He lost his family sometime when he was in his teens and while it must have been painful to talk about them, he made sure my brothers and I knew his family, their quirks, the fact that my grandfather was sort of a village mediator who helped settle disputes. He was an officer in the Austrian army during the first World War, businessman,and a tender, loving father.
My grandfather made sure my father was educated, played an instrument, skied, and belonged to a sort of boy scouts where he earned medals. They went to ballgames. He felt treasured and safe.
I knew he adored his daughters, my aunts. He sent them to good schools to be educated. He was a fine husband, an excellent provider. He was fun and my father loved him.
I have only one picture of him. It's with my grandmother in a small town with their youngest daughter, Minca, enjoying a weekend away. I always knew I would have liked him, that the twinkle in my dad's eye had to have come from him. I suspected my own sense of humor came directly from him.
I didn't get to meet my mother's father either. He died the year before I was born of congestive heart failure, something today that would probably be solved with a pill.
He escaped Tzarist Russia in the early days of the 20th century. He joined his parents and siblings in New Jersey, becoming a furrier, candy store owner, and finally bungalow renter ( an early cousin of Air BnB) in Coney Island.
I knew his was a devoted father and grandfather who spoke no English. He convinced each of his five children that they were his favorite, causing an epic fight after he died when they fought over that coveted title. I was always told that he loved me, even though we actually never met, and somehow I never doubted it. I think I was sure I was his favorite too!
Father's Day is not just about fathers. You are affected by the relationships your parents had with their parents. Their examples set the templet that define the people your own parents become.
My children were lucky to have many great role models. My father taught them humor and kindness, their father, my husband made them wise and strong, their uncles, my brothers brought silliness, a shoulder to lean on, and a safe haven when nobody seemed to understand them.
My sons are fathers now. They are uncles as well. They are strict like their dad, understanding like their grandfather, full of fun like their uncles. They are the living legacy of a long line of men who embraced fatherhood and passed the warmth and beauty of a job well done.
I watch them with pride taking care of their families, knowing they are living history, proof of the hard-working, loving men that live on though them.
Carole P. Roman