Monday, June 18, 2012
APPRECIATING TWO DADS
Around Father’s Day this year I read so many sad stories about unhappy – or absent – relationships with fathers that I appreciate my own father and the father of my children even more. Both of them are gone now, but I’m enjoying the memories that have bubbled up in my mind. By today’s fathering standards, neither of them was as present in his children’s lives as much as we would think enough – but when they were there, their presence was great. My father, Samuel Wendkos, was a traveling salesman when I was a little girl and would be gone all week long. I remember his coming home on Friday evenings and before he would have dinner and I was ready to go to sleep, he would sit on my bed and tell me a story from one of the movies he would have seen during the week. Then on Saturday afternoons he would take me to the movie theater about half a mile from our house. For years he would laugh about the time I wanted to talk to one of the actors and ran up to the stage to try to reach the screen. He showed his love for me and for both my older brothers as long as he lived. He never asked to borrow money for himself, but when one of my brothers needed it, he went to a wealthy friend and incurred a debt that he had to work hard to repay. When my other brother was disabled and alone during his fifties, my father became his best friend, and he and my mother took my brother into their home. My daddy (and I called him that my whole life) died of a sudden heart attack at the age of 76, and my mother said, “He died the way he lived – he never caused a bit of trouble to anyone.” My husband, David Mark Olds, told me the first day we met that the reason his brief first marriage ended was that his first wife didn’t want children. We went on to have three daughters and when people would ask whether he was disappointed not to have sons, he looked at them as if they were crazy. Our weekends when the girls were young took us to parks, museums, zoos, kids’ plays, whatever he and I thought the girls would like, and he never said he didn't want to do anything that the girls might enjoy. He was the parent who drove our oldest daughter around to look at prospective colleges, who drove our second daughter to her weekly piano lessons throughout her junior high and high school years, and who went to innumerable interminable gymnastics meets to see our youngest daughter go through her paces. He also died suddenly, of a stroke at the age of 88, and as much as we all miss him, we know how lucky we are to have had him for as long as we did.