I never really celebrated Father’s Day that much. You see my mother and father separated in the 1940’s when I was only four years old. In those days, especially among Italians, you didn’t get a divorce. Catholics, in particular, Italian Catholics, stayed married.
My father didn’t come around much when I was young. I used to wonder why, but then when I got older I knew why instinctively. You see my mother was a very difficult, stubborn, thick-headed, (redundant I know), Italian woman. I never really knew why my father and mother got together. They were literally “Night and Day.”
My mother was strong, aggressive, stubborn (did I say stubborn?), hard headed, dominating and held a grudge for a lifetime. She didn’t speak with her sister Rose for years and years. Can’t even remember how they finally made amends. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my mother, but there is no getting around the fact that she was one tough cookie. The worst part was she didn’t know how to show affection.
My father Sal on the other hand was soft-spoken, shy, mild-mannered, loving and forgiving. They were married in 1930 when they were very young. My mother was 17 and my father wasn’t much older. After three years of marriage, they had two kids…my sisters Ann and Rose. I came along much later as a last-ditch attempt to save their marriage. Needless to say, it didn’t work.
What I didn’t know at the time was that my father did attempt to see me, but my mother would not allow him to do so. He sent me birthday and Christmas gifts, but she would always return them. He tried, but eventually the attempts became fewer and farther apart. When I was a young girl my sisters, who were closer to my father because they were 15 and 16 when he left, brought me to see him a few times. I tried getting close with him, but I always had this sense of guilt because of my mother. She told me stories that made me wonder why my father gave me up so easily. When I got older I realized that he would have done anything to get away from her domineering and over-powering personality. He felt castrated with my mother. I understood his sense of hopelessness. My mother could be hard and cold when she shut you out.
I regret not getting closer to my father. He tried to the best of his ability to get close to me, but he was a very shy and introverted man. Also when you are fighting up against a brick wall like my mom you tend to throw in the towel. I understand that now. He remarried to a widow with two daughters. He did not have anymore children with her, but they got the opportunity of spending the good years with him that I did not take advantage of back then. I wish I would have. It was also uncomfortable for me with his new wife and family. The old adage “If I knew then what I know know” definitely applies here. BTW, my father is the man in the top right corner of the photo above holding my sister Ann. Everyone that knew him said he was a very good man and handsome too.
Eventually, my mother found a wonderful man by the name of Frank Greco when I was 11 years old. His nickname was Muzzie-there’s a whole other story behind this. They never married, but Muzzie was very much a father to me. He took care of us, supported us, gave us gifts and he was the one who walked me down the aisle when I got married. I found out years later my father was disappointed that I did not go to see him on my wedding day like both of my sisters. I didn’t know they had; I would have done the same. Seems like I found out a lot of things when it was too late. Muzzie became a grandfather to my three kids and to this day they refer to him as Grandpa Muzzie. Unfortunately, my kids didn’t know my father and I truly regret that.
I hope both Sal and Muzzie are happy in heaven and know how much I love them and surely miss them. Happy Father’s Day!
To all you fathers out there, have a very Happy Father’s Day.