Writings by Carmela P.

Formerly "Mel's Musings" but do to many authors with name of Mel - changing to "Writings by Carmela P."

Monday, June 20, 2005


Father’s Day Memories

Growing up without a father did not make an impression upon me until I was about 6 years old and enrolled in first grade. Prior to that my father, being a navy man with a girl in every port, left my unmarried mother before I was a year and a half old. My mother then became smitten by a soldier whose name was Clayton. He wanted to marry her and adopt me. After some thought my mother married Clayton Conley. Unfortunately he died 11 months after their marriage and my mother was left a widow with a small child to raise. My biological father never surfaced and I don’t think my mother ever tried looking him up for no money ever came in from him.

At that point my mother came to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from Los Angeles, California, where I was born, to live with my grandfather who was himself a widower. I was now about 4 years of age. We traveled from California to Pennsylvania by train which was packed with Service men and women.

My grandfather became my surrogate father. He called me, “Baba.” I think it was a pet name. Grandpop was Italian and spoke no English. I was half Italian and half Swedish. I understood Grandpop’s Italian and he understood my English. We got along famously. We would go for long walks to Fairmount Park in West Philadelphia and walk home again. Other times we would walk to 52nd and Market Streets and enjoy a treat at Horn & Hardarts, an Automated restaurant/cafeteria. I used to love when Grandpop would give me a coin to put into the slot for the treat of my choice, usually hot apple pie with white sauce. I would open up the little door to the locked shelf which the coin would open, as would a key, and be excited over my delectable delight. Once in that Automated Cafeteria, I took out my treasure of a triangular scoop of my favorite ice cream, vanilla, and as I was hurrying to our table, I fell forward and the ice cream flew across the floor. The Manager gave me a fresh scoop to console me in my tears of embarrassment. It worked!

Grandpop took me without fail, from the time I was six or seven years of age until I was 12 or 13, to the Italian Market in South Philadephia every Saturday. I soaked in the sights and smells. Meats fresh off the hoof would be hanging from meat hooks. The odors of olives in large barrells, the pungent smells of cheeses hanging from rafters, and produce permeated the Market for blocks. There were all kinds of fresh foods out in the open and it did not seem, at least to a kid, that refrigeration could have been an issue.
Since we had no automobile all of our traveling was done by trolley cars, buses, elevated trains and subways. We would go home with two and three shopping bags full of Italian wares.

My Mother and my Grandpop would take me to Atlantic City every Summer for a week’s vacation. Once we stayed at the Hotel Tripolitania. We would be in the Dining Room by 7 am for Breakfast, 1 pm for Lunch and 7 pm for Dinner. We would walk the boardwalk all dressed up in our best finery in the early evenings.

Then life changed and we moved to a different place and would see my grandfather sporadically, usually once a week or so. Later on he moved to Brooklawn, New Jersey and lived with my Uncle. While Grandpop was crossing the street one evening to buy a pack of cigarettes he became the victim of a hit and run and lived only 8 days afterwards in the hospital. Grandpop was my father figure.

I never pursued trying to find my biological father believing that if he wanted to find me, he would have, and he never did, at least as far as I knew. I do remember walking the streets of Philadelphia looking at every blonde-haired blue-eyed man wondering, “Are you my father?” “Could YOU be my father?” I did that until I was pregnant with our fourth child finding out from my mother that he had died when I graduated from high school and she never told me. I was upset, got my grieving over and done with and moved on.

Growing up without a biological and/or adoptive father left an indescribable emptiness which paled as I grew older. Barry and I married and started a family of our own. I came to view my husband as father to our children. He was doing with our children what had been missing in my young life and I grew to respect and admire his new role.

There were times when he would take our children for trolley rides which they loved. He could take two at a time easily. They would come home and excitedly tell of their sitting in the driver’s seat, even though it was in the back of the trolley. They loved to walk to the local elementary school playground to play on the swings, the seesaw, the sliding board and the ever popular monkey bars with Dad watching. I was always so happy they were spending time with their Dad. The boys did not seem to be sports’ buffs but they did enjoy the Cub Scouts for a few years. Young Barry was into wrestling. Later on in High School there were the Junior Year Father-Daughter Dances and Barry first took Kim, then Tracy, and finally Brooke. We have photographs of them and they have the unique memory of each of the three spending a wonderful night of music, dance, and refreshments with their Dad.

As the children grew older and married, Barry began to take the grandchildren on trolley rides and they would sit on the driver’s seat, again in the back of the trolley. They also would go to the local elementary school and play on the swings, seesaws, sliding boards, and monkey bars. Barry has taken almost all of the eleven grandchildren at one time or another to these places. The babies will have their turn, too, God willing. Presently we have 11 grandchildren and 1 great grandbaby girl. We are certain he will also be taking Olivia for the famous trolley rides and playground outings when she is old enough to go.

My husband has filled the void I used to feel by simply being the best father he can be to our children, grandfather to our grandchildren, and great grandfather to our great grandbaby girl.

He enjoys lengthy conversations with all five of the children even now, if not in person, then on the phone. There is discussion of serious matters at times and more often than not, good hearted humor…..and laughter can be heard much to my total delight.

As I think of fathers and Father’s Day, ultimately The FATHER of us all is the One whom we should HONOR on OUR FATHER’S DAY first and foremost. Our Father is the Author of our lives. He knew us before we were conceived within our mothers’ wombs. We were in His mind’s Eye, in His Plan before time began. It is unfathomable to comprehend the lengths to which He has gone for love of us. We know what He has done for us but can we truly understand it? We do not have a Divine Nature as He has, although we are temples of His Holy Spirit. This is another gift He has given us, the ability to be temples of His Holy Spirit. Our Father has given us multitudinal gifts out of His great benevolence. He is all-giving, all-loving, awe-inspiring. His love is limitless, infinite, forevermore. He is all magnificence. pure and beautiful. His beauty permeates every possible dimension in the Universe. O Father, Abba, Adonai, God, how we PRAISE Your NAME. Thank You, Our Father, for creating us. Thank you for sending Your Son to save us by stretching His Loving Arms on That Cross for us. Through His Passion, Death and Resurrection He opened the Gates of Heaven for us. Thank You for the auspicious invitation. We accept, Father. We are hope-filled children looking forward to being seated at the Banquet of the Lamb, where we shall see You O LORD GOD of HOSTS Face-to-face. We shall be like You in image and holiness. We are humbled, Father, for You gift us with unimaginable treasures. We have not earned it, You give it freely. We love You, Father.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all DADS,Past Dads, Present Dads, Step-Dads and Future Fathers-to-Be

C. Patterson © June 2005