If he was alive, my father would be 106 today. . . . doesn’t sound THAT old anymore. But he isn’t alive. He took his own life when I was 14, leaving my mom with seven of us — I was the eldest. I learned many things from my dad. He ran away from home and he joined the circus when he was 16 — really — he could ride horse back Roman style, walk a tight rope, and juggle fruit. In grade school, my friends wanted to come to my house to see my dad do tricks. He loved dogs. I was born into German Shepherd Dogs with which he had earned obedience titles. The dogs kept track of us kids — streets, streams, and strangers were on the list of no-nos. Dad owned a riding academy. When I was three (or so), someone smoked in the barn and set it on fire. An ambulance took us to my grandmother’s home so we didn’t hear the screams of the horses perishing in the fire. I don’t think Daddy was ever the same. He suffered from asthma so eventually we moved from the Chicago area to New Mexico where he worked as a cross-country truck driver while studying electronic repair. That was back in the day when electronic repair meant fixing radios and televisions. Imagine! There were no computers yet.
My mom died of cancer three years following my dad’s death. Sometimes (like today) I dredge up the faint memories I have and savor them for a little while. Happy birthday, Daddy.