Monday, March 19, 2012
The Feast of St. Joseph, A Day to Remember My Dad
While most people celebrate their dads on Father's Day in June --which I do as well--I also take time to think about my dad on March 19, the feast day of St. Joseph.
My late father was no saint--just ask anyone who knew him--but he taught me many life lessons. Among them are:
* Be proud of who you are. We were Irish-American Catholics and poor, but it didn't seem to matter. Dad was proud of his Irish heritage. Although he wasn't a big man, he never backed down from a fight--in fact, he probably started many--usually in a neighborhood tavern after a few Buds. (That's the not-being-a-saint part.)
* Be proud of your country: Dad was a decorated World War II Army Infantry soldier who served in the Pacific Theater. While he rarely talked about his time in the "Big War," he was very patriotic. He belonged to the Disabled American Veterans, and we flew the flag on our front porch, especially on patriotic days.
* Know your tools: Like St. Joseph, my dad worked with his hands. He was a carpenter and an enamel sparyer by trade. At home, he liked to tinker and fix things. When he did, he sent one of us kids to fetch him a tool. But Dad's tool box was sacred; no one got to open the lid unless Dad sent us to get something for him. When I got married, my husband was surprised that I knew the difference between a phillips and a flathead screwdriver.
* Fall in love with words: Every day Dad worked the crossword puzzle, the word jumble, and the crypto-quip. His love for playing with words rubbed off on me. Dad also loved to read, especially the newspapers. We subscribed to the St. Louis Post Dispatch and the now-defunct Globe Democrat (his favorite), and Dad read them from cover-to-cover, except maybe the ads. We never got to touch the paper until Dad finished reading it. When we were little, Dad read the Sunday funnies to us. His favorites were Dagwood, Little Lulu, and of course Beetle Bailey.
* Get a good government job. With a house full of kids, our folks couldn't afford to send us to college, so Dad urged us to get jobs working for the government. My sisters Kathleen, Bridget, Glenda, and I all did just that. I started working as a clerk-stenographer for the Army ten days after high school graduation--which helped me pay for night school and a college degree.
So, today I'm taking time to remember my dad, James P. Duly, Sr. In fact, this evening at supper time I might just tip a little brown bottle of Bud in his memory. Here's to you, Dad!