It’s Father’s Day, and I reflected back on my Dad, who is gone 28 years now. I am now older than him, and I am a “youngster” in my 50’s. I could never find a Hallmark card for him, because they spoke of golf, grilling, Barcaloungers or beer drinking, none of which he could be associated with. My Dad was “elected” to care for no less than `17 family members, and over 74 employees during his life. My Dad, was drafted (the only one to serve of four boys) into service while just 18, and trained to fight on the beaches of Normandy in 1944. Injured there in an explosion, and sent right back to fight, he never spoke a word of his valiant efforts in France for 17 months. Those were his memories, and he never shared them with anyone. We know that he was honored for his actions, but I am unaware of his specific acts of bravery.
He returned to the five hungry mouths of his siblings and Mother. One little cleaning store, where my Grandma once lived with two little ones, was not going to cut it. My Dad needed to figure something out, because his family needed him desperately. He had the gumption, intestinal fortitude, street smarts, intelligence, and confidence to borrow the bank’s money and open a dry cleaners on Kedzie Ave. Forty years later, his 14 cleaners could be spotted throughout the streets of Chicago, Elmhurst, and Lombard. His life WAS his work. I saw little of him, knew little about him, and only saw the remains of a tired soldier who came home for dinner, and fell asleep on the couch minutes after sitting down. He never had the opportunity to discover college or university to study an endeavor of his choice. He became a Father to his entire family, including my sister and I. He would put on that “feed bag” every day (yes, even Sunday he would monitor a cleaning crew at two plants,) and come home only to have a meal, and re-energize for the next 5:00 AM awakening. He is my hero, for he put everyone ahead of himself. He asked for nothing in return but our love. That ingredient is what we Dads need, expect, and deserve from our families. This missive is for all those Dads who are no longer here, but nonetheless deserve our thoughts and love.
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