Growing up my Father was the most handsome man in the world. I admired his broad shoulders and the wave in his hair. He would go to work in a freshly starched white shirt and tie and a great suit with matching wing tipped shoes perfectly shined.
His closet held only suits and shoes, very few leisure clothes, except for a couple of jewel toned Ban-lons. But, the suits were neatly organized by color and the shoes would be lined up on the floor below.
His name was unusual…..”Bim”. His legal name was Aubrey Ernest Green. Born in a small village just outside of London, Mount Sorrel, he made his new home in the US, Royal Oak, Michigan, with his parents when he was just 6 weeks old.
He held a very important position at Wolverine Tractor and Equipment Company as Operations Manager over their two locations. He had a secretary who would take my calls. Dad was always “on the road”, but she would surely give him my message.
Dad came home just one night during the week and usually around noon on Saturday. When he got home Mom and Dad would pile into the car to go shopping, usually to the pet store to buy more tropical fish. When we arrived home he would siphon the tank with a rubber hose into a bucket and clean it carefully while the fish swam around a mixing bowl looking for shelter in the seaweed that wasn’t there. We would clean the tank, add the new fish and relax around the family room gazing at the sparkling tank, the only light in the room, The fish darted through the fresh seaweed and rock formations as they became acquainted with their new tank-mates.
Sometimes he would sit at the grand piano and play “Stardust”. He rarely sang the words, but always added plenty of tinkling notes to the arpeggios. Mom would sometimes sing the melody and I would lay on the floor, hugging my favorite doll, listening intently. They were a beautiful couple.
Dad loved his music and would play classical 78’s on his diamond needled Hi-Fi. My appreciation for all types of music grew from this. Besides classical music he also loved The Ink Spots, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. The records would be played over and over and over until I knew every word.
On Sunday he would cook dinner. He would make a beef roast with all the fixings. Potatoes, squash and carrots. It was a feast for a king and to this day one of my favorite meals. I remember the wonderful aroma of the roasting meat. Usually, my older sister Sherie and her husband Bill would come for dinner. We would sit together at the table, the only meal all week where we were together.
In the summer he would grill steaks and we would swim in the above ground pool. They would sip on cold beers and enjoy the midwestern humidity. The smell of the fresh mowed grass was sweet. And the perfectly manicured back yard Mom would painstakingly trim and cultivate every day was worthy of any magazine. Usually Sherie and Bill would bring their kids to play with our little brother Ernie. It was always fun.
When I married Tom, I acquired another Father in my life…Louis John Zitiello.
What a striking difference between the two. Tom’s Dad was always on the scene. He worked all day, delivering potato chips around Cleveland, but he was home every night with his children.
As a family they went on vacations every summer, usually drove to Florida from Ohio. He would save all year to make that trip possible. They would often reminisce over those days at Walt Disney World or on Jacksonville Beach and eating at Howard Johnson.
Their family went to church every Sunday without fail. To this day, my Father in Law attends church every Sunday. He says a rosary using his fingers instead of beads. You can see him moving his lips as he runs through the decades holding his knuckles. What a wonderful example he set for his children….and theirs.
He was there for every question, every failure, every success and every achievement. He was there. He loved his wife and his children and now his grandchildren and great grandchildren above everything except his God.
Now I have another Dad in my life. My husband, the Father of our children. He watched his Dad all those years. He learned how to be a great Dad. And now, he is the leader of our family. The one our children will emulate. The guy who changes the first diaper, who makes sure each birthday is a huge celebration. The guy who outshines Santa Clause on Christmas morning with well thought out presentations of the perfect gift for each child and for me. Who lays on the floor by the bed of a sick child. Who prepares a great meal when Mom had to work late. Who goes to doctors appointments, never misses a practice or a game. Who is there for advice whenever needed. He can be depended upon to be there. A man who loves his family above all else, except his God.
For most of my life I looked for love. I never was completely sure I was loved by anyone. But, my husband showed me what real love is. He has been there for me, unlike every other man in my life, for every moment, good or bad for the past thirty-one years.
Today, I thank my first Father….Jesus Christ. I thank Him for blessing me with the Dad’s in my life. He taught me everything through these men. He taught me how to raise my sons to be godly men and Fathers. He taught me that He loved me unconditionally all along. All I had to do was trust in Him. I thank Him from the bottom of my heart.