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Posts tagged “father’s day

Father’s Day

My father and me, spring 1964.
man laughing

My father smiling and laughing, summer 1960

I find it sweet to see all the tributes on Father’s Day, even the simple one-line thank yous, pictures of dads who look like anyone’s dad, just everyday ordinary people who were heroes to at least one person. I see comments that are not so positive as well, and am glad for the honesty of those of us who have had parents who were not heroes. Growing up in the rigid sameness of the early 60s it wasn’t easy to hear friends talk about not only what their parents had done for them, but for what they did together, and to be left out of that group as well as others that required a parent’s assistance and participation. Even if it’s never existed, it’s part of the human condition that you want that bond with each of your parents. Seeing it in action even as an adult is bittersweet.

As I’d mentioned, my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, or Parkinson Syndrome, in the early 80s, but we traced the symptoms back decades before that once the doctors explained the disease to us.

man holding child

My father and me, spring 1964.

The man you see at the top was smiling, wearing shades with slicked-back hair in the summer of 1960, the summer before I was born. I found it in my brother’s baby book, surprised, because I’d never seen my father look so animated. The baby in this photo here is me, and the man holding me was my father in spring 1964, just a few years later, in the only photo of my father and me. It might seem that he’s in a serious moment here, showing me something, but that was the only face I ever knew, older, expressionless, a slow-moving, quiet, unspeaking person.

I never saw the laughing man above, never heard him laugh or even smile that broadly. Whatever had happened between 1960 and 1964 had masked over the person underneath, and it wasn’t until 1985, when his medication had been settled, that I even held a conversation with him, though he really didn’t know who I was.

What had happened in that time? He’d had surgeries in previous years for an ulcer and for a badly broken leg that never truly healed, yet he worked on his feet in the bakery six nights a week. Treatments and surgeries for each condition were repeatedly necessary, each time leaving him with, we know now, his brain less capable of producing enough dopamine to fuel mental and physical activity. My mother’s major depression after my birth no doubt took its toll on him as well, and his deteriorating condition may have even been partly responsible for her depression. Low-wage jobs, never enough money, increasing debilitation, did that contribute to it?

Possibly other things contributed. I know that my father did not finish school, in fact I hear he didn’t finish the sixth grade; it was 1931 and the Depression, his family was losing their bakery business. It wasn’t unusual at that time for children to quit school to contribute what they could. He did get a general equivalency diploma, or GED, when he joined the Army in WWII, and after the war he tried to start a bakery business and to learn other skills in baking through correspondence courses, but was unsuccessful. Was this a part of it as well?

So my father was there, but he was absent. He wasn’t cruel or angry or abusive, he just…wasn’t. How do you give that a one-word description? “He was __________.” Or perhaps, “He wasn’t __________.” To describe as others do on Father’s Day what he was to me, a person who wore a mask of illness, who was there beneath the covering, but whose actual presence I missed by months, I’m just not sure. It doesn’t matter, really.

I do know, though, where I got my dimples when I smile.

. . . . . .

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

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Father’s Day

My father and me, spring 1964.
man laughing

My father smiling and laughing, summer 1960

I find it sweet to see all the tributes on Father’s Day, even the simple one-line thank yous, pictures of dads who look like anyone’s dad, just everyday ordinary people who were heroes to at least one person. I see comments that are not so positive as well, and am glad for the honesty of those of us who have had parents who were not heroes. Growing up in the rigid sameness of the early 60s it wasn’t easy to hear friends talk about not only what their parents had done for them, but for what they did together, and to be left out of that group as well as others that required a parent’s assistance and participation. Even if it’s never existed, it’s part of the human condition that you want that bond with each of your parents. Seeing it in action even as an adult is bittersweet.

As I’d mentioned, my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, or Parkinson Syndrome, in the early 80s, but we traced the symptoms back decades before that once the doctors explained the disease to us.

man holding child

My father and me, spring 1964.

The man you see at the top was smiling, wearing shades with slicked-back hair in the summer of 1960, the summer before I was born. I found it in my brother’s baby book, surprised, because I’d never seen my father look so animated. The baby in this photo here is me, and the man holding me was my father in spring 1964, just a few years later, in the only photo of my father and me. It might seem that he’s in a serious moment here, showing me something, but that was the only face I ever knew, older, expressionless, a slow-moving, quiet, unspeaking person.

I never saw the laughing man above, never heard him laugh or even smile that broadly. Whatever had happened between 1960 and 1964 had masked over the person underneath, and it wasn’t until 1985, when his medication had been settled, that I even held a conversation with him, though he really didn’t know who I was.

What had happened in that time? He’d had surgeries in previous years for an ulcer and for a badly broken leg that never truly healed, yet he worked on his feet in the bakery six nights a week. Treatments and surgeries for each condition were repeatedly necessary, each time leaving him with, we know now, his brain less capable of producing enough dopamine to fuel mental and physical activity. My mother’s major depression after my birth no doubt took its toll on him as well, and his deteriorating condition may have even been partly responsible for her depression. Low-wage jobs, never enough money, increasing debilitation, did that contribute to it?

Possibly other things contributed. I know that my father did not finish school, in fact I hear he didn’t finish the sixth grade; it was 1931 and the Depression, his family was losing their bakery business. It wasn’t unusual at that time for children to quit school to contribute what they could. He did get a general equivalency diploma, or GED, when he joined the Army in WWII, and after the war he tried to start a bakery business and to learn other skills in baking through correspondence courses, but was unsuccessful. Was this a part of it as well?

So my father was there, but he was absent. He wasn’t cruel or angry or abusive, he just…wasn’t. How do you give that a one-word description? “He was __________.” Or perhaps, “He wasn’t __________.” To describe as others do on Father’s Day what he was to me, a person who wore a mask of illness, who was there beneath the covering, but whose actual presence I missed by months, I’m just not sure. It doesn’t matter, really.

I do know, though, where I got my dimples when I smile.

. . . . . .

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Father’s Day

old photo
old photo

My father with a ukulele in one of the big bands he played with in the 1930s.

My dad with a ukulele some time in the 1930s, aspiring pianist, composer and performer, life, the Great Depression, a world war, the family business, kind of got in the way of all that, though I remember my dad writing little squiggly marks on lined paper after dinner on the kitchen table, and I imitated this, though I had no idea what it was as he wrote up his arrangements of popular songs for the big bands still performing around Pittsburgh in the 60s and 70s. Born in 1919, he left school in the sixth grade in 1931; it was the Great Depression and he began working in his parents’ bakery, and never returned to school.  He served all four years of WWII as an Army baker and cook, then came home to try out music again, but ended up working as a baker in small bakeries around Pittsburgh, creating incredible breads and rolls and amazing European pastries, skills which his father had brought from Poland. Working six nights a week, starting his day when most people were fast asleep and coming home at breakfast with a bag of imperfect doughnuts and hard rolls, still warm; the hours and had work took their toll, he had Parkinson’s disease from before the time I was born and was fully engaged with it when I was a child, though he wasn’t diagnosed until the early 80s, and he died after lung cancer and the final effects of Parkinson’s in 1991.

I wish you’d had the chance to follow your dreams. I’m doing my best to follow mine.

Happy Father’s Day, love, Bernadette


Father’s Day

male and female cardinals

Father's Day

Father’s Day

She is small but quick
obviously adores her father,
following him everywhere
imitating everything he does,
every sound he makes,
and every way he moves,
as he intends her to do.
This is what they do together most afternoons,
he running down the list of things she needs to know,
and methodically showing her how to do one and then the next,
and he is very affectionate with her, touching her face frequently.
She’s a little uncertain at this next task, though,
and hesitates as he coaxes her,
she clutching the branch in her little orange claws,
tilting her head from side to side,
the tiny red-brown crest on the top of her head
moving forward and back as if trying to focus,
and even though he knows he should probably stand his ground,
the bright red cardinal grasps a sunflower seed from the feeder,
hops back to his daughter, cracking the shell to expose the treat inside,
and, each tilting their heads as if to kiss, he gently places it in her open beak.
Soon, she will be gone to him forever.
© Bernadette E. Kazmarski