Sunday, June 15, 2014

Remembering Dad On Father's Day

This is a very accurate photo of dad and brother Jim. Dad very seldom appeared in photos because he was, nearly always, the picture taker. Frank Pesci was for many years the lead photographer for the Travelers Insurance Company, and one of his sons – yours truly – was possibly the most photographed kid in Connecticut, appearing in brochures and the like.

I still wince when someone at the shooting end of a camera asks me to smile. But my dad is never far from my mind. He was the wisest and gentlest of men, a trait he probably picked up from his exquisitely polite father, who always stood and bowed when a woman entered or left the room. I knew my grandfather only from my father’s reports of him; he died before I was born.

My father’s mother was taken from her family as a young girl to be a companion for a wealthy family who lived in a palazzo on the Mediterranean. She was accepted as a member of their family and the Countess sent her to college. I never knew her either, except from my father's report, but a picture of my grandfather and grandmother on the Pesci side hangs today in my house. She was beautiful, refined, lovely.

My mother was a governess for a family in Suffield when she was very young, only fourteen. She met my father in Windsor Locks, and instantly was stuck on him. He was, she said, the best catch in town.

While she was working in Suffield, my father visited her many times. They dated, got to know each other well, fell in love. My father asked my mother to marry him four or five times, but she kept putting him off. One day, he visited her with a calendar in hand and said, “Rose, I want you to pick a day on this calendar when we can be married. I’ll leave it with you. If a day is not marked on it when I come again, this will have been the last time I will have asked you.”
After he left, she burst into tears and asked the lady of the house what she should do. She was told she’d better marry him
When he returned, she made a confession. Before her mother died, my mother had promised her mother that she would take care of Charlie, one of her four brothers.
“So what’s the problem?” my father asked. “When we are married, Charlie will come and live with us.”
She said “yes.”
My father’s word was solid, his heart spacious as Heaven. Charlie was ten when he came to live in my father’s house. When my father died, leaving a gaping hole in my heart, Charlie said to me, “He was my father too.”
We should remember our parents when we are caught up in the toils and cares of our day. To remember one who has died, the philosopher says, is a prayer.

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