Father’s Day, the annual event that creates a rush of activity in the Hallmark stores nationwide, and multiple traffic jams throughout the parking lots of shopping malls and raises revenues at Macy’s stores is a really remarkable day. As a son, I never quite understood the real significance of the day…because my father was and is always there to help me in innumerable ways that I cannot adequately explain.
Throughout my parochial school years, my father never generated any academic stress on me or my siblings. When report card time came around, he usually looked at the quarterly grades and either said “Good job!”, or “Your mother won’t like that one!” My father was not a “school-hanger”, meaning he didn’t get involved in our school activities, grades, or anything on a regular basis. The only time my father ever came over to Saint Gabriel’s School was to tell the school nurse, Mrs. Gorman…”never touch him again!” when I failed the annual hearing test, administered in February, when I was usually recovering from my perpetual ear, nose and throat infections. Of course he was there for graduations and all of the other important milestones. However, my father is the most superlative example of someone that always loved his job…as a Philadelphia policeman and narcotics detective. He worked multiple shifts, weekends and holidays. He was usually working on Father’s Day, so we often got a glimpse of him before or after his shift. The most important lesson I have always received from him is this: always do your job and do it well.
Often, my father passed on counsel through his everyday remarks and comments. I never realized how intensely accurate these little tidbits of pragmatic information were. For example, my father (to this day) does not paint, plumb or fix things around the house. He always told my mother, “Cass I’m a cop…call someone when you need something fixed around the house!” This fortunately has always resulted in a maintenance job being done correctly, well and without collateral damage. Once, my father was putting up wooden folding doors at our house in Avalon. It was 95 degrees, sawdust was everywhere. My father was in the basement (yes basements do exist at the shore), with his Craftsman power saw, trimming the doors for installation. That went well, until he cut the doors a little too much and what were supposedly solid wood doors, turned out to be hollow…and with the overcut…they fell apart. Well that was the end of the Bob Villa experience…from that moment on, it was adhere to the concept and, “call someone to put things in around the house.”
In the 50 plus years of my parent’s marriage, my mother has controlled everything…the house, the kids, the finances, even my father’s wardrobe. As a now father of a 12 year old daughter, I understand how this route of least resistance made my father exceptional. He was always there for the important milestones in our familial lives…but was never overbearing or excessive in expressing his love and concern for his children. Most importantly, he saw his role as the provider, which he has always done 1000% for me and my siblings, Karen and Stephen.
In the McNichol household, we have never been known to run around expressing our feelings of love for one another. Perhaps it is the remnant of Irish Jansenism that still pervades that side of the family “roots”; maybe it is the remnant of German pragmatism that still courses through our genealogical DNA on the other side of the hybrid family tree that keeps us from saying those three words…I love you! But I have always known my father has loved us, because he has always been there as a provider, pragmatic sage and constant influence on the events of our daily lives. While we don’t run around in a 1960’s sense of “love fest”, we love our father, even though it is sometimes not often said verbally enough. So yes, “I love you Dad…and thank you for always being there…even though we haven’t always appreciated everything you continuously do for me, Karen and Stephen during his brief life!”
Happy Father’s Day to a great Father, who is in his own way, Socrates, Archie Bunker and Clint Eastwood all rolled into one…a pragmatic philosopher, that always told us truthfully and honestly with the reality of Inspector Harry Callaghan the best way to accomplish our goals and tasks in life. We love ya!