|Ciao and Sacred Sunday to you:
Today is a happy/sad day. It’s my dad’s birthday.
He was 92 the afternoon he passed, and today we would have been celebrating his 95th. No doubt, my dad lived a long and amazing life. And still, I miss him dearly.
Papa, as we called him in his later years, didn’t have an easy childhood and was only 7 years old when his mother died. The loss of his mom colored how my dad viewed the world and his place in it.
He pretty much raised himself, which resulted in a determined, hard-working and strong individual.
Papa was from what’s called the “Greatest Generation” and he was immensely proud to be a veteran. His authoritarian parenting style somewhat reflected his upbringing and military service.
And yet like each of us, there was much more to him than several positive virtues and a few shadow qualities. He, like you and I, was multi-layered, textured and filled with rich paradox.
My dad was also very funny, generous, kind and loved my mother, my brothers and me fiercely. He was as endearing, loving and as real as you can get.
Together my folks built a good life. As first-generation Italian Americans they lived a little in both worlds. They strove for the American dream at the same time they embraced their heritage.
As you might imagine our home often overflowed with family, friends and lots of steaming bowls of spaghetti and meatballs.
My dad was the original Karaoke master and most weekends we would find our small family room crowded with aunts and uncles belting out Big Band tunes.
I grew up with the sound of music and crooners filling the four corners of our home, from Pavarotti to Tony Bennett, Billie Holiday, and Judy Garland.
Besides my mother’s unwavering devotion and his love for his children (and they for him), I believe my dad’s passion for music and singing, soothed his sadness, brought him healing and great joy.
I often like to imagine my dad, gathered with my mom and all our loved ones, taking turns passing the microphone back and forth while swing dancing to the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.
So today, on Papa’s birthday, I give you the gift of his voice singing one of my mom and dad’s favorite songs, “What A Difference A Day Makes.”
Yes, it’s really him. A self-taught singer who knew intuitively the curative power of sound.
With love and appreciation, xoxo Paulette