In Memory of my Father

This is strange. I just checked that place on my blog’s dashboard where I can see the number of visitors I have each day. The two highest days since the start of June are days when I did not blog. Am I missing an opportunity or what? When someone goes to my blog and sees that I have not written do they then notify their friends? I wish I understood this stuff.  I can’t figure out what the people around me are thinking let alone a bunch of strangers.

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Today is Father’s Day. I have read on Facebook some nice reflections on fathers who have died but continue to be held in love by their sons and daughters. Here are some things I remember about my own father:

Charlie grew up in a home that was tumultuous. I once heard him talk about how it felt to be a child listening to his parents fight.

He was excruciatingly handsome as a young adult male. It is no wonder that he attracted my mother.

His work was in the detail industry of tool and die making. I wanted to be a tool and die maker when I was a teen ager just so I could work closely with my dad. But when I took calculus in college I realized there was more to it than messing with metal chunks.  He was loved in his industry. He went into partnership with my one of my uncles and a couple of friends founding “Charles Zapf and Company”. Later he left the business and went to work for a man who had once worked for him. He found peace working at a drawing board and leaving the business decisions to someone else.

Dad sang bass and was a member of a Barbershop Quartet for a number of years. I never heard him sing with his group, but I heard him sing at family sing-alongs plenty of times. My heart melted. I think I was in love with my father.

Dad loved young people and for many years was involved in scouting. My boy cousins and brothers told stories of him gathering them in and walking the scouting way with them.  He later was involved in Air Scouts with my brothers. He went on many camping trips with them, for which I was terribly jealous. I didn’t discover Girl Scouts until I was in high school and I remember thinking, why didn’t Dad get involved in this organization for me?

When I was a little girl our most intimate moments were when Dad would sit me on his lap and read poetry. The favorites which he’d read over and over again, I still recall and can recite many of them:  Trees, Branches, Li’l Orphan Annie, Old Jim, Seein’ Things, Little Boy Blue, Fences, to name a few.

One of Dad’s character defects was to start projects and not finish them. This was one of my mother’s thorns.

For a while, he was enamored with the lifestyle of people of wealth and bought my mother a mink stole. She hated it because she was so turned off by such a lifestyle. After he died, she loved it as a memento of my dad’s up and down journey and his bumbling effort to show his love for her.

Dad was an active member of Alanon to which he introduced my brothers and myself. After she got sober and involved in Alcoholics Anonymous, they became speakers among their fellows in the  programs and did quite a bit of traveling. They met Bill Wilson and his wife on their travels. Dad started an Alateen group in his neighborhood at one point. I can’t tell you how amazing it was for my family to meet some of the young people he had touched at his funeral. He was a tremendous resource for me when I went into Youth Ministry.

At a tool and die convention, Dad once won a spider monkey and brought it home to show my mother. She was furious. The monkey left.

Dad loved to fish and was always after Muskies.  It was boring for us children because musky fishing means a lot of casting with no results. Mom would take us panfishing so our vacations often consisted of Dad off trying to get the big one and Mom in another boat with the kids catching supper. My  favorite memories of fishing is smelt fishing off the piles along the Chicago coast of Lake  Michigan. Pulling in a net full of these little silver wigglers, cleaning them and frying them in a pan on the spot. Yum.

When my dad was dying of lung and then brain cancer, I shared with him the story of my life since I’d left home. He was so sick, he could not comment but he listened with such love and acceptance that I wish I’d told him sooner.

8 thoughts on “In Memory of my Father”

  1. I loved reading about Uncle Chick. My sister, Eileen and I were sorting out and scanning many many old photos and found a few of Aunt Fran and Uncle Chick. I remember you teaching me to play the ukelele. Would love to hear more about your mom and dad. Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Really wonderful to read! Thank you for posting this tribute to your father. Wish I could have met him.

  3. What a beautiful tribute to your father, Judy. I love reading your reflections on your life. Your father must have been quite the man…

  4. I think I just lost my comment 🙁 Using my phone makes it difficult. Thanks for writing about your dad. It was fun to read. I learned things I didn’t know!

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