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A Daughter Remembers Her Father

In honor of Father's Day, the author remembers her dad.

 

If you have been enjoying my blogs, then I must give some credit to my dad.  He had a gift for storytelling and a knack for descriptive language like no one else. I’d like to think I inherited at least a small portion of his talent.

First, a brief description of my father. He was a salesman. He sold wallpaper, but if you ever asked him what he sold he would always say “himself”.  He was a sincere salesman, which in most cases is an oxymoron, but not in his case. He had white hair, dressed impeccably, drove a huge Caddy and always had a cigarette in his hand. He traveled the country non-stop, yet most of my childhood memories include him sitting in his chair in our living room reading the newspaper- dressed to the nines, of course.

Here’s an example of how my father expressed himself. A typical dinner conversation would include: “Cecile (that’s my mom), I’ve eaten in 5 star restaurants throughout the country. I’ve dined where celebrities and royalty have dined, I’ve been to restaurants so exclusive they don’t even have a sign on the door, but none of those meals Cecile, none of those meals can compare to your meatloaf.” And the truth is,  he truly meant it.

 Back when I was in college we were on vacation in Hollywood Florida at the Diplomat hotel. It’s one of the very rare times I remember seeing my father in a bathing suit. Let’s just say he wasn’t the “outdoorsy” type. Picture a man in designer bathing trunks, a matching button down short sleeved top, a perfectly blow-dried comb-over, a black watch, gold bracelet and the palest skin ever seen outside of Antarctica. I remember him walking slowly toward us with a slight limp, even whiter from the 3 bottles of suntan lotion he put on… ”Cecile (long drag on the cigarette), Cecile, I’ve had impacted wisdom teeth, I’ve had my neck in traction, I’ve had my gall bladder removed, but nothing Cecile, can compare to the pain between my toes from these rubber thongs.”

Anyone who knows my father knows you can’t mention him without mentioning “the diner”. The Shore East Diner in Massapequa to be exact.  Somehow, we always wound up at the diner. Even after a night on the town in the city, we found ourselves having coffee and hot chocolate at the diner. We would eat there every Saturday for lunch without fail. When my mother, sister and I would start complaining about the table we were seated at and my father would say, “For God’s sake, we’re not moving in!”

So, one time back in my twenties,  my back went out and my sister had to take me to the emergency room. I remember lying on a table in the waiting room because I couldn’t sit upright.  My sister bought me a hamburger, mashed potatoes and a donut from the hospital cafeteria. It was literally one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten (other than my mother’s meatloaf, of course). Shortly after, my parents arrived. They had been in the city having dinner. My mother was in her mink coat (not yet politically incorrect) buttoned up to her chin.  It was 6
thousand degrees in the hospital but for some reason she refused take that coat
off. Finally at 2:00AM, after 4 long grueling hours and a huge needle stuck
into my back, it was time to go home. My sister wheeled me into the parking lot
with that look on her face that she was clearly tired of waiting on me. I had
that look on my face that one might have after getting a shot in her back. My
mother was still in her mink, her face beaded with sweat. My father took a puff
on his cigarette and said “Meet at the diner?” And, of course, we did.

Many years later my parents moved to Florida because, as Jerry Seinfeld puts it, it was the law. One of the last conversations my mother had with my father in the hospital after his heart attack was, “George, the girls are coming down”. He could barely speak, but whispered from under his oxygen mask, “That’ll be nice… just the four of us… like old times.”  But my sister and I didn’t make it in time.  He passed away while we were in flight. That was 15 years ago.

So in honor of Father’s Day - you guessed it- I’ll be going to the diner.  Happy Father’s Day, Daddy. I love you.



 



 

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Edward Robinson (Editor) June 07, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Wonderful Story Jaqueline! Do you still have the meatloaf recipe?
Jacqueline Katz-Rabinoff June 07, 2012 at 09:57 PM
Thanks, Ed. And yes, the torch has been passed!
Nicholas Koliarakis June 12, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Hi Jackie - Nick Koliarakis here (Massapequa HS Class of 1980). That was a nice story. I ate at that diner once on New Year's Day in '71 or '72 - too bad it is no more. I lost my own Dad back in 1985. It was sudden - and he was out of the country to boot. He was a merchant sailor (meaning he was away a good deal of the time while my brother and I were growing up). He was anchored off on a oil tanker the coast of Trinidad and suffered a massive heart attack on the ship and died later that day. We were in total and utter shock when his best friend and his family came to our house to tell us (and I was wondering why they chose to visit us on a weekday morning when I opened the door and saw them there). Among my best memories of him were our trips to Cosmos and Arrows soccer games, as well as Mets, Yankees, and Islanders games. I would often poke fun at his broken English (all in fun, of course). And when he slept, you could hear him snoring from miles away! He was an avid fisherman too. Time was when he used to come home from the ship he was working on and go fishing out on the North Fork the next day. May both our Dads RIP.
Jacqueline Katz-Rabinoff June 12, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Thanks so much Nick, and thanks for sharing your story. Great memories. Hope all is well with you.
Nicholas Koliarakis June 18, 2012 at 03:56 PM
You're welcome! All is well, Jackie. Thanks! I've got comments for a couple of your other blogs. Good luck with your daughter's prom too!
Nicholas Koliarakis June 18, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Oh, I forgot - save me a piece of that meatloaf the next time you make some. I asked for some at a restaurant recently and our server brought me the "Bat Out of Hell" CD! ;-) No, I am NOT quitting my day job! :-)
Dave Brunner September 26, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Hi Jacqueline, Do you remember what years your family frequented the Shore East? I was a waiter there while I was getting my engineing degree and worked the overnights on Fridays and Saturdays from 1976 to 1979. Still miss the people...both co-workers and customers. Dave Brunner
Jacqueline Katz-Rabinoff September 26, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Hi Dave, I think most definitely we were there during those years (and beyond)! It was our home away from home. I can write a blog just about going to the Shore East Diner. One year on my father's birthday they rolled out a sheet cake and had a belly dancer. I miss those days!
Dave Brunner September 27, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Hi Jacqueline, That sounds jusl like something Paul and Andie would cook up. Did your family have a "favorite" booth on the diner side? I still remember most of my customers by where they sat and what theit favorite order was. Funny the hings you remember... Dave

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