Sunday, June 19, 2011

Papas

The trouble with being a nighttime blogger is that I'm coming late to this party. Things have been beautifully said about fathers generally and specifically in blogs all day long. But I still want to give a nod to my Papa and my son, who is a Papa too.

I'll start with one of my favorite photos of my Papa, because it shows his warm, genuine smile. He smiled a lot, because he liked to joke and tease, but when it came to pictures, well ... you should see the gallery of sober expressions my Picasa face recognition page has assembled of him. Here he is here at 89.

Smiling Papa

He was a serious lad at 8, in his shirt and tie and bare feet.  Although I don't think he ever lived in the snow, you can see the old tales about walking barefoot to school were true.


Barefoot boy

I think it was love at first sight when he and Mom met. It was during the depression and times were tough. Here are he and Mom on an early date, picnicking in the mountains, along with Papa's cousin.


The suitor, the girl and his cousin
 They married in the depth of the depression and in due course, along came me.


Mama, Papa & Baby Lee
 He apprenticed in the family stained glass business as a young man, becoming a master craftsman and working at it his whole life except for a period during World War II when he worked at Douglas Aircraft doing war production, then at Caltech doing something secret. (We could hear great roars all over the city from whatever they were testing; I think we can guess what from the fact that "Caltech" became JPL -- Jet Propulsion Lab -- in later years.)

These traditional stained glass windows were among his photos, so I'm guessing they were his windows. By the time I became aware that stained glass wasn't just another ordinary occupation, I'd moved far away and, alas, didn't keep track of his specific accomplishments, which include windows in churches and residences all over California, in Nevada and other states.



Toward the end of his life, I finally saw stunning example of his work of more recent years. He designed and fabricated, with Mom's assistance, all the windows for St Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Concord, California. These are contemporary faceted glass windows, and the dedication of the windows was celebrated with (ta da), these T-shirts.


T-shirts on my sister, Mama and Papa
 He played in life as well as worked, tennis as a young man, golf in later years. He and Mom attended the Episcopal Church throughout their 67-year marriage.

He worked at his art, still designing and producing until mere months before his passing at age 94 during which he was more in than out of the hospital as we tried to prolong his life for longer than we should have. He hung on so long for his most important job, taking care of the love of his life. Sweet Momma lived for five more years, reaching 95-and-a-half, as she told everyone, to her great surprise.


As for the other Papa, my son Ben, who is such a loving and nurturing father to his two "kids," Chris and Ashley, is now parenting on his own after losing his wife six months ago.


Ben in family photo as a little squirt

Ben (r.) with his "cuz" (I like the beard)
 My son lost his own dad when he was twelve. His dad was nurturing as far as he was able, although overwhelmed by many pressures in his life. The other man in my son's life, my second husband, whom I didn't encourage to play a father role, was more of a "man's man" influence, and they got along well. I think as a result of this absence in his life, he's especially cognizant of the role a father can play in the life of a child. Ben is an engineer by profession but a musician by passion and he's instilled the love of music into his kids (they're adults, by the way), who play with him in his bands when they're available, even as they launch themselves off on their own careers.


My daughter, me, my son
this spring
 With the strong love among them, my son's little family will continue on, cherishing the memory of their wife and mother, even while missing her.

Love to all my kidlings.


See you later.


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1 comment:

  1. Lee, what a wonderful post. I think your dad must have been amazing. I remember your mentioning that he also took you to the horse racing track. And the picture of you with your your young children is just gorgeous. You remind me of Audrey Hepburn - short cropped hair, large eyes, nice smile! Did you know then that you would be speaking French, traveling the world and even restoring a castle?

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