El Capitan

El Capitan

M y Dad died on this day 32 yeas ago. He slept alone. His excessive snoring was the reason we were told. From others, I have come to the conclusion that he had sleep apnea . Whenever we

went on vacation , I would sometimes hear him. He and the rest of us were at my sister’s command. En (route we did not like to take those exits to nowhere,) but she would say “I have run out of gum, or something to that extent.” He would take the exit and look around with her until we were all over some little southern town trying to track down whatever she thought she might need at the time. The next few hours were spent trying to find our way out of these places before nightfall.

The worst time was in of all places, our nations capital Washington D.C. After a few days of sightseeing and picture taking,we were getting ready to leave. It must have been at the wrong time then usual. Most probably my father was looking for the keys to put on the front desk. We went back to the rooms searching away until there they were like magic. We would all agree that we had looked there before, another hour of this and now we noticed the dark.

Holy Lord!  I usually would curl up in the fetal position with the sound of my father driving us to our next destination ,Savannah. I was awakened when the car parked and we had the awful experience of the real Washington D.C. We were lucky to get out alive. One place had arisen from the darkness a( Kentucky fried chicken )was still open . The man even gave the right directions to get us out of that hell hole. Dad would not let my mom drive when he was in the car. We were to young then to help him.

He drove us anywhere that we agreed we wanted to visit. I did not get a passport until he said “you’ve been to almost everywhere in the U.S,now find out why our parents struggled to get  out of Europe.” Lesson well learned but soon forgotten. Some gang of fools I hooked up with had talked me into hiking through parts unknown and overseas. For the most part we ate strange food and had to drink wine, because the water was so polluted. We stayed at hostels and with somebody that was

still studying to become an actor. There was no room to move around in , and the weather was cold and damp. We all were running out of money. One joker said “remember how the football player’s

would go to N.Y.C. and strut around in there football jackets and…!” NO. I called my daddy and he wired enough for,me and one friend. The others we barely saw again. Maybe they are still giving it the old college try. Yipes!

I put you through a lot, but you were the only one who truly thought I was special. When we had people at our house ,he always would have me play Beethoven’s on our piano for them.

On vacations it was “shush now Nancy is going to sing.” His favorite song that I struggled through

was “Leaving on a jet plane.” Made famous by Peter,Paul and Mary, he said that he thought I sang it better than them . How  I loved to hear you praise me. I’m glad I was be able to give you that

little joy . My parents stayed together for the kids, that was wrong. I heard my dad tell my mom “but

where am I supposed to go?” His job was the answer He worked from 5am to 9pm for the U.S. Transit. weekends off,not really he might not have known  much about cars,

like her brother and brother in law (he was without a father, and supported his mom.)

He could put a roof on a house ,build a two car garage, he made us a play shed in the backyard.

Nothing he did seemed to do met my mom’s standards. He was raised by his mother,the last of 4 boys. His father died when he was very young. The story surrounding his death is still somewhat of a

mystery. My dad had to be the man of the house and handed most of his paycheck to her. He had

friends and was on the winning baseball team in the acre. That is just what it is and what it was. He

saved up for a custom bowling ball,a set of golf clubs and little else. His oldest brother lived next door.

His wife and he could not have children, and the story we heard was that someone left a baby on their doorstep,I never believed that one. He was named after my uncle and they were happy. He got my

dad a good union job. His other older brother lived downstairs with his family,all was well with the world. In those days you were supposed to get married by a certain age and start a family. When

my dad.’s father died . My grandma had a tombstone with the whole front written in Ukrainian,on the

back she had them engrave her 4 sons names and the year they were born there was a dash with a

place for the year they would die. No wives and grandchildren expected to be buried there,that was

painfully clear.  My mom got very mad at him when I was 10 years old. It seems that he had signed away his part of the house to his brother who lived downstairs . They soon had the whole run of the

place and my mom was horrified. They wanted my father to still pay half of the bills? Anyway she gathered us together and brainwashed us into not having very much respect for him anymore.

That one year went from me unable to choose who I loved most ,me replying I can’t choose I love them both. In The next 2 years my father lost his mom (the only funeral I ever attended),he lost his favorite brother to stomach cancer(he could inhale smoke and make it come out of his ears), It was the only time I saw him cry. My mom’s brother (Mary Ann’s Dad) told his sister to divorce him. Marsha was told by ST. Mary’s

school ,that she would do better in special ed. It was decided that she was

supposed to go to special ed classes in public school. Mom asked Mike  and me if we

wanted to still go to the place that kicked our sister out,

that was a resounding NO!  We stopped going to the church that betrayed us and did

not have any community or family support either. Piled on top of that were our new neighbors the Jewells who had been raised on mostly naval bases. Day one we caught them in Mike’s tent removing things.

The mother never smiled and wanted to move there just for the sports. She dismissed us and let

her (he did not mean to do it son Bobby) terrorize us. We had such nice neighbors before them,the

Seigals and I think they always regretted selling their house. Their sons had grown up and they thought they needed something smaller. My father was so upset by them that I think it brought on his high blood pressure! I will always remember your 6 weeks of vacation which allowed  us a reprieve

from them. They never went anywhere, the mother said she had moved around enough while her hubby Dick was in the Navy for 15 years. Another 5 and he could have retired.Weird!  Where did they come from and why did we have to learn such evil

people existed,just when we had so much else to contend with(we now  had sadists next door.)

Dad had too many losses and pain thrown at him at once, mom got her dog that we all loved. She also had a yard sale. Mary Ann said ” Aunt Fran are you really going to sell Uncle Bill’s gulf clubs and everything.” He does not need them anymore, and there in the way .” What she meant and almost

all of us knew , was that he was in her way. They hardly spoke to each other. Worse was when they would not speak at all. We were once a loving family who walked to the favorite ice cream place to

choose our flavor of the week, and then we skipped merrily home to play bad-mitten in our backyard.

When you started to work the long hours ,you knew you could have gotten on disability. You chose the long hours instead. I put together all of mom’s reels of tapes and put them onto VHS tapes with

background music that I chose carefully for every precious moments. You are in most of them with us

mom was the shutter bug. One musical choice I made was when you were walking through the Port Jervis( rose garden that is no longer there )with Marsha holding tightly to your arm . You have a rare smile for her as the song to Know Him Was To Love Him plays in the background.

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