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Posts Tagged ‘Fathers’

My Daddy Jim was the only dad I knew.

I had a biological father who died before I turned one. He was a pharmacist and owned a drug store. I had a stepfather at 12 who died my freshman year in college. He was a lawyer and a judge. You could say I had an abundance of smart, successful fathers, but only one real, true Daddy – my foster father Jim.

Daddy Jim had an eighth grade education. He left school early to work, in order to help his large Irish Catholic family. It wasn’t uncommon then, there were no child labor laws. He joined the Navy, and because his eighteenth birthday fell between two great wars, he never knew combat. He was a teenager when he married my foster mother Nell, and they only had one child.

Their daughter Jackie was a nurse when they scooped me up after my Year of Living Dangerously. Jim was over 50 years old when suddenly he and Nell filled their empty nest with a baby. Me.

Daddy Jim gave me the capacity to love.

I’ve given this a lot of thought; girls raised by a nurturing and loving father have a better than average chance at finding love. After all, some fathers can be driven by their careers, their hobbies, booze or even extra-marital affairs. The young women they raise might think that love can mean detachment, or even abuse. Intimacy can be elusive.

Over Father’s Day weekend, I made a list of the memories I have about Jim:

He Gave me the World – He would read to me from a newspaper. Since Nell didn’t drive a car, Jim would take me shopping for food. I learned how to talk with the butcher, and the baker – how to connect with others. He would take me swimming and ice skating at a pond.

He Would Comfort me – Whenever I was sick, he would hold my hair back. He would always stay with me until I fell asleep. We would stop for ice cream sundaes after Mass every Sunday. Whenever I asked him what he wanted as a gift for Father’s Day, he’d say ‘nothing.’ But I’d get him a new pair of slippers anyway.

He Liked to Surprise me – Every day when he’d return home from work, he’d have a tiny surprise in one hand or one pocket, and I’d have to guess. How did I always guess the right hand? I can’t even remember what these gifts were, probably a flower or a fancy rock? Maybe a nickel? It didn’t matter. What mattered is that I knew I mattered to him. Jim once built me a doll house made of popsicle sticks!

He Taught me How to Play – Whenever I was “bad,” he’d chase me outside all around the house until he’d catch me and give me “paddy whackins.” It was like play-spanking because we’d collapse out of breath with laughter. And every day after dinner we’d play cards for pennies. This was serious stuff. He taught me not to cheat, and to save my winnings in a piggy bank.

He Helped Around the House – In the old days, it was highly unusual for dads to do housework. And even though Nell was a full-time-homemaker, Jim would wash the kitchen floor every Saturday morning while I watched cartoons. We’d dry and put away the dishes after dinner, before gin rummy. He’d clean out the ashes in the coal bin and pick up the dog poop in the yard.

When Jim retired from his government job as the “Transportation Man” – the person who coordinated the trains in and out of Picatinny Arsenal, he was given a watch. I wish I could tell him how much he meant to me, so much more than a watch, or a pair of slippers. He died before Bob and I married, and he’d forgotten who I was at the end.

He was the embodiment of unconditional love. And I was so lucky he chose me as his daughter.

Pop Bob at the Farmer’s Market

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Hope everyone had a fun-filled holiday weekend and took some time to remember our fallen warriors. Our President went to Afghanistan and the Pope went to Jerusalem, conflict zones still. My silent prayer yesterday was for peace, like some aged pageant finalist, I knew I didn’t have much of a chance.

Bob was saving lives all weekend. No, really he saved a young man’s life, in his 30s, first heart attack, coded right in front of him like they only do on TV. An emergency department can be like a war zone, especially on Memorial Day (or insert any summer holiday). Grills are being fired up and gas tanks malfunction, lawn mowers throw crap into people’s eyes, fish hooks get stuck in the most unlikely places; and that’s just a sample of a country hospital. Throw in too much alcohol and/or drugs, then change your scenario to a city, and all hell will break loose.

Because guns are so prolific in this country. Because guns can be bought in a parking lot, online or down the street at the newest Gander Mountain store where guns line the walls like 3D wallpaper. Because no politician has the nerve to stand up to the NRA, to challenge the 2nd Amendment. We successfully challenged that bit about African Americans and slavery. But heaven help us if we want to keep guns well regulated, have background checks or challenge laws like “stand your ground.” We the people are not even allowed to track gun violence, or sue a gun manufacturer if a gun misfires! In some states, the NRA tells our pediatricians they cannot even ask if there are guns in the home.

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

I didn’t start to cry until I saw a father, Richard Martinez, ask how this was possible in Santa Barbara, California. How could his 20 year old son go out to a deli only to be gunned down for no reason. How could this happen after Sandy Hook, CT? http://news.msn.com/crime-justice/father-blames-government-idiots-as-california-town-mourns-killings

“Martinez said his son died because Congress had failed to act after a mentally ill gunman killed 26 people in December 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. “These people are getting rich sitting in Congress. And what do they do? They don’t take care of our kids,” he said.

Because let’s get real. It’s not about mental health laws and how long people can be held in a hospital or be committed against their will. This latest mass murderer was not only a misogynist, whose parents cared enough to call the police about his homicidal tendencies, he was a cunning, borderline psychopath. He had the money and the ability to purchase as many guns as he wanted, legally, and to fool the officers who interviewed him for what, ten minutes?

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE GUNS

Maybe, just maybe there is something we can do. And if enough of us act, if enough of us gather signatures, gather our nerve, we might make a dent and get politicians to listen to parents who have had enough of this senseless gun violence – in schools, in movie theaters, in delis. Because a “well-regulated militia” means the National Guard to me. It takes one nation to end gun violence. Consider joining “Everytown for our Safety.” I did.

http://everytown.org

I was going to write today about a chance encounter I had with a dad helping out his son in a new business, they own a local food truck. But sometimes my fingers just type what they feel, and another dad’s feelings took over.  Why not join Everytown with me, let’s give peace a chance.     IMG_0612

 

 

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Something a journalist said on Twitter caught my attention a few days ago. I even had the pleasure of this person “favoriting” my response to the situation – while everyone else in the BIG media company the journalist worked for  received 10 weeks of parental leave after the birth of a baby, this particular parent was eligible for only 2 weeks. Why?

Because he is the biological father!                                                                   http://joshlevs.tumblr.com/post/65567442495/why-ive-filed-an-eeoc-charge-against-time-warner

It’s strange that the parental leave policy at Time Warner does not discriminate against same-sex couples having a baby, they get 10 weeks of paid leave, each person.  Adoption, surrogacy, no problem. The 10 week policy applies to any new adoptive or surrogate parent, man or woman. But this is their third child, and Josh just couldn’t get the company to budge. So he had to sue, because sometimes a challenge in court is what it takes to right an obvious wrong. Here is what one of his lawyer’s said:

Time Warner’s excuse for treating biological fathers differently than mothers is that women experience a period of medical disability associated with child birth.  While this sounds reasonable at first blush, the rationale does not square with the 10 weeks given to adoptive parents who require no medical recovery time.  Moreover, biological mothers receive the 10 weeks of maternity leave IN ADDITION to their full short-term disability benefits.

Then I just happened to bump into this guy, Joss Whedon, who starts ranting about feminists and comparing the word to the word taliban. Oh you know I was interested. “I hate feminists,” he says, and he begins dissecting the word; a wordsmith who actually made me rethink my relationship with Gloria Steinem and NOW. http://www.upworthy.com/a-room-full-of-feminists-just-applauded-a-guy-who-attacked-feminists-wait-for-it-re2-7a?c=ucfb1  Thank you Rebecca Eisenberg for bringing this discussion to light!

It seems that even rich, white guys can be discriminated against. In this post-feminist, “genderist” world I hope that Josh Levs rallies men and women and transgenders to his cause equally. Because our newborn babies deserve as much time and love as our corporations can deliver under the law. Because we old “feminists” taught our sons well; now it’s high time Madame Justice took off her blindfold.

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