My dad was born into a Catholic family: he was the first child and had ten siblings—all girls. At the age of 11, he was taken away from his school desk and was presented with his first job—eleven mouths to feed don’t come cheap, choices were made, and education was not one them. My father learned how to mop a floor, dust shelves, and fend off his boss’s sexual advances. When my father grew facial hair, he met my mother, who worked as the elevator operator in a department store. It was love, and my siblings and I were the fruits of that love. Fatherhood did not come easy for my dad, and we were often left to rot.
My dad was not a bad father—my dad wasn’t there much. He worked hard as a building janitor, he provided a roof over our head, and canned peas with a side of fake mashed potatoes on our plates. Smiling was not something my father did well; he did sadness better. When my father wasn’t slowly dying from smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, he would disappear in his studio to be with his true love: Art. I can’t say I remember my father smiling even when he was bending scrap metal, or painting his soul on a blank canvas, but in these late and solitary hours where he was alone with Art, my dad was creating the life he longed for, and those were tears of joy.
You are missed, and loved, and I wish I could write more about you.