Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day 2014

Father's Day....I have been blessed to have had quite a few men be my father, stand in for my father, or just be there for me, as in the father of my 5 wonderful kids.  Perhaps I have done this before but I've decided to do this again.  Here's my run down with a few anecdotes: 
My birth father was Henry Sylvester Czekala.  I know he really loved my mom and she really loved him.  I've learned from my grandmother that he loved to untie ladies' aprons and when he got out from the car, he'd just stand at the opened door and stretch a bit before proceeding.  Patsy told me that he was one of the boys who hung around the corners, pitching pennies, and always had on the silky cowboy shirts.  He always wanted to be a cowboy, even taking the nickname of Ace and had sort of an emblem like a brand that he'd draw either instead of his name or beside it.

My mom had told me that each day after work he'd come home, lie down on the floor, pick me up and held me 'standing' on my feet and aske "how much did my little girl grow today".  Sadly he died when I was 4 months old.  My mom repeated this gesture for him as he lay in the casket.  And she repeated his words.  Even now, as I write this I get teary.  Oh how i wish he had lived and I wonder what our lives would have been like.  Would they have been worse or better.

He loved to read so as to improve himself.  He knew he didn't have the education my mom did but didn't allow the lack of funds to get in his way.  He bought sets of classics and read them through so he could learn and having something to discuss with my mom.

Dying of a heart attack at such an early age was always attributed to being in General Patton's tank corps in WWII , sleeping under the tanks in all nasty weather as they marched up through African, up the boot of Italy.  My Uncle Al Etzel told me that after the war my father worked in a horrible factory, with hammers that pounded away all day long.  That probably with a weakened condition from WWII, the added to the stress.


So with the death of my father, my mom and I moved with my grandparents and aunt to Parma and my beloved Poppy became like a dad to me.  My mom worked so I stayed with  my grandmother during the days.  My grandfather allowed me to put pin curls in his hair while we watched American Bandstand with Dick Clark every afternoon. Oddly, I can totally remember this.  My Poppy was a jokester and loved to tease my mom and my aunt when they were young, scaring them and their friends during sleep overs.  He wasn't my mom's birthday father (hers was a horrible man, who beat my grandmother and was quite the drunk.  Gramma would make a bed in a the tub for my mom and the two of them would keep safe behind the locked door.  When my mom was 8, my grandmother decided it was time to get a divorce.  Poppy had loved my grandmother while they were all still young in England and followed her to America.  He knew what the arranged marriage would become because he knew Joseph Morley Thomas.  Luckily, my grandmother and Poppy met again and wed.  He was the best of fathers to my mom and the best grandfather to me!  Oh how I loved him.

When things were difficult with my mom and my first stepfather, Poppy would stroll up Darthworth Dr, which was just a dirt road then as Parma was just beginning to become populated.  He'd tell my grandmother that he was just going to check on the kids...meaning my  mom, my baby sister, and me.  He never stopped in but just walked by the house to see that all was OK.
 
Not only was he a concert pianist but he also sang opera.  Here he is in one of his performances.  He would play the piano and allow me to stand next to him and sing, Bless this House and Mallott's Lord's Prayer.  When I began piano lessons he coached me and corrected things that my first teacher did not.  I remember my first recital.  Everyone thought I had been playing for such a long time but it was that only because he helped me.  He died in 1960...and I still miss him.

In 1953 my mom married John A Center and the two of them had my sister, Deborah. Daddy was a great provider.  He worked hard but drank and gambled hard too.  How my mom managed to save money, pay bills, keep us all together AND find the true gospel is still a wonderment to me.

Daddy worked at ALCOA, having left a holler in KY to better himself.  He was put in an orphanage during the fall/winters because there wasn't enough money for his mom to feed him. But in the summers he'd come home to work the tobacco fields.  These hillbillies (said not as a slur...it's just what they and he called them) would plant enough tobacco to sell to see them through to the next crop and to have enough tobacco for themselves.  And boy did Daddy smoke.  I think he had his first heart attack about 1958, while we vacationed in Canada. It was horrible.  Mom stayed with him in Canada, living with our Canadian relatives while Debi and i returned to live with my grandparents.  But Daddy returned to work and eventually died in 1972, just after Robert and I were married.

Mom said she'd never marry again BUT....



As luck would have it, she found Roger A. Osborne, also a recent widower and they were married in 1976.  Roger was amazing to me and to my kids.  The best thing for my kids, I think was having both grandparents living just down the street.  When their home in Parma had been broken into, things stolen, my mom felt violated and they began a search for a home.  We were surprised they opted for one 8 houses away from us but the insisted that they needed to be closer to us so we could take care of them.  Roger's one local daughter had some beef with them, perhaps it was the marriage or some other issue, but she remained quite aloof for some time.  In the end, I think she and Bonpapa resolved something or just opted to let it go and she would come around now and again.

But Roger was fun and fun loving.  He was good for my mom and if she hadn't have been sor worried about his health and ignored her own, I think she would have found the colon cancer earlier and lived longer.  But I guess we will never know.  It was great to have Roger in our life. The one thing I most remember about him was that altho Robert and I never had much money, he would always remind us that we had all we needed because we had the church, temple covenants, loved each other, and had great kids.

Roger died 4 years to the day after my mom did.  He and I had gone to the cemetery, shopped, eaten at Panera's (which he said was delicious and he asked if we could go again). I dropped him off, setting up his computer so he could do his Home Teaching report and left him to start dinner. But between the two events he suffered a massive brain hemmorrhage. We found him on the family room couch, his slippers still beside him.  It must have happened right after I dropped him off.  Yet he never mentioned having any headache.  How fortunate that such a good man could leave this life as he did.
The one person I've left out of sequence in my Uncle Johnny, my wonderful godfather.  He is married to my mom's first cousin, Patsy. Both of these fine people accepted the responsibility to be godparents, back when godparents really did mean responsibility, not just a title. But they have always taken their duties very seriously.  They have always cared for me and mine and now as they age, it's my blessing to return the honor, and care for them.  At this point, Johnny is going to be 94 in September and is very weak.  I wonder how much longer he will be there for me to love.


Then along comes my wonderful husband, Robert.  He's been the best husband and best father and now I can say the best grandfather (altho only Marissa lives close enough to allow him this much time with her boys....and that too is destined to change since Hank is looking for a job which will take them all far away).

Robert has always been my rock and has been the same for the 5 kids.  He's loved by his daughters, emulated by his son (rather successfully, I add).  Last Friday he submitted his retirement notice and will be out of that dangerous steel mill on August 31.    There are not many men today who last 42 years at any job, let along a mill.  We have always been grateful that he was accepted into he Management Program in 1972 and has remained a manager and employed all these years except for the  8 months the mill was shut down.  Even then he hauled carpets to provide for us.  No job was too menial for him.  He has said that the kind words said to him by this current boss as well as the last boss he had who retired mean more to him than the money ever would have. 



So, yes. I have been blessed with good men in my life.  I provided my children with good men as well.  And today I am grateful.  The few pictures that follow this are pictures from Father's Day..in the teepee Bonpapa and my mom bid on in their ward's fundraising auction decades ago.  My kids played in it at their home which is now our home. Then my folks gave us the teepee and it's still being used.  Robert commented on how small it looked as they all crammed in it vs. how large it loomed in his memory.  And I had to agree because it's just what I thought.  But perhaps because this time it was OUTSIDE and not taking up residence in our narrow family room at 809 might make the difference.

Come on in, my little Shiska Beasties! 
 Naturally, Niko had to join the boys...but hey, Niko said, he's my dad too, isn't he?
So tall is our Henry that his head touches the top of the opening.  It was a great fun day for the dads! and their sons.
Robert enjoyed the phone calls and the gifts.  Real homemade ice cream from his strawberries, a book on
Churchill quotes, a huge box of full size candy bars, a wonderful fruit arrangement from Just Edibles, 2 new ties, new hankies, BBW set, and a new boonie hat to keep the sun off his soon to be retired face/neck.

Happy Father's Day to all my fathers and my husband. Thanks for leading me, guiding me, directing me, loving me and for always being there for me.

2 comments:

Lin Floyd said...

lovely tribute and personal history. didn't realize we had so much in common. My dad died when I was five and my grandparents cared for me while my mom worked...etc. thanks for sharing!

Dawn Barrett said...

Mother...you were so blessed, despite glitches along the way.

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