For You, Pops

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He had a heart as big as a truck and a laugh that could move a house. This was a hearty, sonic boom of a laugh, drawn from a seemingly endless well of mirth. It was released most often around the dinner table (where pops was the happiest), suddenly erupting and literally shaking the room. The man had an unstoppable joy, a playful, joking spirit that really had a life of its own. He laughed, teased, prodded and razzed, all the way until the end. So it should come as no surprise that my father was, in part, a mighty jester. After all, he was born on April 1st.

He had a heart as big as a truck and a laugh that could move a house. This was a hearty, sonic boom of a laugh, drawn from a seemingly endless well of mirth. It was released most often around the dinner table (where pops was the happiest), suddenly erupting and literally shaking the room. The man had an unstoppable joy, a playful, joking spirit that really had a life of its own. He laughed, teased, prodded and razzed, all the way until the end. So it should come as no surprise that my father was, in part, a mighty jester. After all, he was born on April 1st.

He’s been gone for over two years now, and while the material memory is beginning to fade, I’m left with these well-etched images: Bushy hair and a thick moustache that lay bare his Italian roots; huge constrictor arms, complete with tattoos: one a red heart declaring “Johnny loves Gloria” to the world, the other a busty brunette in a skimpy negligee (She used to be naked, but after the wedding, mom demanded clothes); a web of crows feet around twinkling eyes, the result of a lifetimes of laughing; a half-asleep man shuffling through the kitchen for a midnight snack, not-so-tighty-whities sagging off his butt, v-neck undershirt stretched over his boiler of a gut; a proud man spiffily dressed for family get-togethers, noble in stature and smelling of Old Spice; glasses, cup of coffee and cigarette, as he busted out a crossword at 6:30 a.m.; nodding out and snoring in the chair as the Mariners played, this early bird unable to stay awake through the 9th inning; serene at Mass, hands held out in prayer, palms-up, basking in a deeply-felt faith that I at once envied and never understood.

Pops was a gentleman, in the most basic sense of the word. He was a gentle man. He was built like a bear but never once raised his hand in anger. The closest he would come was on one of those not-infrequent occasions when my sister and I were fighting and he was trying to rest.

“That’s ENOUGH!!!!!!” he’d roar, bursting from his chair and jerking his big leather belt from the loops that held it around his waist. This alone would turn our blood to ice and terrify us into instant submission. The threat was enough, and never once was it actually carried out.

This isn’t to say that dad didn’t have a temper. He did. It didn’t arise so often, but when it did come, you and anyone else within a three-block radius knew it. I once saw him take a lifetime of aggression out against a push lawn mower that wouldn’t start. Each fruitless pull on the chord cause a wave of ire to wash over his body. Like any time he was frustrated, he bit his tongue and furrowed his brow, until the obstinance of the machine pushed him over the precipice. With the strength of an ogre, he picked up the mower and repeatedly slammed it on the ground, then chucked it the entire length of the driveway with one awesome push from his chest. This was one of the few times when I saw both the strength and the fury that my otherwise docile father was capable of.

Another time I was out with him fishing in our boat, near the town of Gig Harbor, Washington. I hooked into a MASSIVE Chinook salmon – to this day the largest fish I’ve ever had on a pole. It slammed the herring-baited hook and nearly bent the pole into the frigid Puget Sound water. I was just a kid at the time and this fish was out of my league, so dad grabbed the pole and proceeded to fight this monster, catching glimpse of its slab of a side as it rolled on the surface. The fish then proceeded to run straight out from the boat – the reel whizzing as the salmon pulled out acres of line. At this point it was about one hundred and fifty feet out. Just then we saw a giant sailboat – a yacht, really – heading our way. It was running parallel to us, right between my pole and the fish. We began to yell and wave in an effort to get the skipper’s attention, but the yacht would not deviate from its course. It pressed straight ahead. As it got closer, our shouts and gestures became more desperate, until finally the behemoth of a boat sailed right over my line, with the rudder acting as a knife. The line suddenly went slack and the fish was free.

It must be said that my dad was never much of a cusser, but the shower of profanity that geysered out of his mouth that day was nothing like I had beheld before. He bellowed f-bombs and other violent oaths with an unfettered rage. He literally shook his fist to the sky, the closest I’d ever see him challenge a God that he not only believed in, but feared and loved. He was helpless to net his son’s fish because of the arrogance of some rich asshole. This inflamed my dad’s soul. He would have gladly gone to blows for me that day. This was my first lesson in class consciousness.

This is the third birthday that pops hasn’t been around for. I suppose that it has gotten a bit easier with the flow of time, but the hole in the fabric of our lives that he left still remains, and it is a tremendous one at that. I wish that his absence was an April Fool’s prank, that he could step back into this world, accompanied by his thunderous guffaw. But this is no joke. He’s gone for good and this fact gouges deep. But I’ll never forget the man, this mighty jester. In fact, if you listen carefully, you can hear him when I laugh.



9 thoughts on “For You, Pops”

  1. Coz of your post, Im way down

    Coz of your post, Im way down memory lane again.. Different memories between my PoP and I came back to me again..All of these memories draws a smile on my face and tears on my eyes each time I reminisce..

    Damn! I miss that great guy again..

    Reply
  2. Nicely put.
    Unfortunately

    Nicely put.

    Unfortunately I’ve never really had a decent bond with either of my parents. Some of the decisions they have made in regards to preferential treatment of sibling has left me not really caring too much. Kind of sad really.

    Reply
    • LBS, if your parents are

      LBS, if your parents are still here, why not make up for all the loss of time?? It’s never too late for anything.. The sad thing is or will be that:  you know you can do something to make a relationship better, but you just don’t.. Care to ponder about this?.. I hope its not late for you yet coz I, personally, got that regret the moment my PoP passed away.. but I still got a mom with whom I can make up with.. and be the best to make a better or best relationship there will be.

      Reply
  3. We are civil but that is only

    We are civil but that is only because I chose not to care anymore. I have sacrificed a lot over the years while my sister in particular has been bailed out more times than hay. I know people will say take the higher road and look after yourself, be proud that you never recieved anything from them and did it your way.

    Screw that! I look back and wonder why I just didn’t f*** my parents over like my sister did. They they love me, they love her but I ask where’s the money you stole from them?   Who gives a hoot about ‘disappointed in her’ I could of used a free $50,000 years ago when my wife and I were starting out. My parents also have never done anything for my wife. 

    No effort in life by them, none in death by me. Sometimes it’s better to just let go. 

    This is good,cheap therapy. Thanks.   

     

    Reply
    • We all live different lives..

      We all live different lives.. I guess that road of life is yours to take.. But just reading through your posts, it saddens me.. Pain is what I feel .. excruciating pain and anger.. I feel sorry for replying to your post.. I wish I just let it be.. Just stay positive in life and positive things will come around..

       

      Reply
  4. Thanks, I concider myself a

    Thanks, I consider myself a reasonable happy guy. I don’t run around pissed off all day long like some people I know who do too many private classes. I think I have a decent balance really. Some areas are night and day though; family matters kind of takes the dark side.

    This is horrible to say but the let truth be told; my family would actually function better if my parents weren’t around. I don’t wish death upon them but they have caused so much pain and disorder among my siblings because of the ‘special treatment’ I spoke about none of us speak anymore.I rarely go home and can’t wait to leave once I get there. We are just oil and water, we all ways have been and will be.

    They don’t understand my life over here and I don’t understand their acceptance of a bullshit livestyle mediocre(?) existance. I guess we should all just go home work 9-5 at the local plant, get easter monday off and be happy and get drunk every weekend with the same bullshit people from high-school while we listen to John Cougar Melloncamp’s Jack and Diane over and over over again. We can sit around the campfire talk about how many years left I have on a upside down mortgage and you can tell me about your six year truck loan. Let’s all yurn for the ‘good ole days’.

    No thanks.  

    Reply
  5. families

    We are a crazy species-staying mommy and daddies little boys and girls our whole life. I always say, "We do not pick our parents and definately do not owe them anything because a condom broke one night so not being close to them is no biggie." Or something like that. You are an individual-not at attachment to your parents. Thats is merely psychological as if everything so do with your brain as you please! 

    Reply

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