My dad

     Early this morning, my dear, sweet, eighty year old father called me before I went to work.  It is always a surprise for me hearing from him, as he hates the phone, and prefers time spent together face to face.  He is a precious human being, and sometimes he reminds me of Fred Rogers.  He has that quiet way about him, and in some ways, even resembles him.  Once, when I was little, he put a sweater on, the way Mr. Rogers did, and even sang the beautiful day in the neighborhood song.
     I spent the weekend back home with my family.  I moved away five years ago to pursue a new life and new marriage.  Even though life is new and fresh for me, I miss them so very much.  I especially miss the mornings spent with my dad.
     He had major heart surgery over twelve years ago.  When he was recovering, we would meet each morning before I went to work, and would take long walks together.  It was good therapy for his heart condition, but better therapy for me.  I learned things about him, I could never have known before.
     My father’s first language was Italian.  His parents were first generation immigrants and came to this country with no knowledge of the English langauge.  I am amazed that he and his siblings learned English so well, and that his parents, my beloved grandparents, were able to speak English so well after a short time in this country.
     I laugh now, because my father hardly remembers any of his first language.  Whenever we are around Italian speaking people, he muddles through somehow, but seems very uncomfortable with it.
     He has been a tower of strength in my family’s life.  Always there for us, hard-working, kind and giving.  Also quite the talented builder, for my father makes models of all types.
     When he was younger, he built classic model ships.  Huge ones filled with tiny rigging lines and small plastic parts that you had to pick up with tiny tweezers.  He has graduated into doll houses now, large, Victorian models with winding staircases and individual roof shingles, hardwood floors and tiny bricks.  Patience is one of his greates virtues.
     I look forward to my next conversation or visit with my father.  When I grow up, I hope to be just like him.