Helen's father

Father’s Day

Dear Mom,

It is nearly Fatherā€™s Day and I am thinking of Dad. I was so lucky to have you both as parents. You taught me to be kind, respectful, curious and hard working. You taught me that life is not always easy, but we can find the gift and be happy. You taught me to be brave, although I am not sure I always feel that way. I do try, though, because you and Dad were brave. You went through many hardships but you never complained.
I often think of your story of meeting in July, 1935, during a summer course at Hiram College. You fell in love, but in September you returned for your senior year at Oberlin and Dad finished at Hiram so you wrote to each other.

After graduation, Dad got a job at Republic Steel while you taught French and math at a high school in Rootstown, Ohio. Dad had to earn money to help take care of his mother who was diabetic, so you went your separate ways. After his mother died, you were able to get together again and were married on April 27, 1940. Dad had already enlisted in the Army due to the war, but was given a pass for the weekend. However, his pass was revoked because of the urgency of training, so you spent your honeymoon night on the train to Durham, NH, then were separated for three years. I have boxes of letters between you two. I have no doubt that those letters kept Dad alive until he could return in 1943.

Charlie was born in 1949 and I in 1952. You were often busy, so I spent a lot of time with Dad, whom I adored. He used to color with me and then sign his pages with the names of famous artists like Rembrandt. Charlie, Dad and I used to go to a nearby park on Sundays, while you sold houses, and then for ice cream. One scoop only cost 7 cents!!

Dad always had a lot of physical problems and illnesses but he maintained his sense of humor. In high school, we went to a lot of sporting events, especially baseball. Male friends are amazed by how many 1960s baseball players I can name! We would go shopping and out to lunch, make brownies and go to the grocery store on Saturdays to help you.

At my wedding, he was in a wheel chair. Charlie walked me down the aisle to Dad, who stood up and took two steps with me to Fred. Four months later, I called on November 12 to chat. Dad sounded stronger than in months. It was a short conversation, because dinner guests were arriving. The next day you called me at work to tell me he had died that morning. I was shocked. It simply could not be, but it was. I was only twenty-six and I have missed him for many, many years.

Grief is hard, isnā€™t it Mom? You must have been heartbroken, but you were brave and never complained. You continued to live a vibrant life for fourteen years. Then you were done too. Just like Dad.

Love, Helen

Helen's father

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