My dad was a difficult man to love. He was an alcoholic, verbally abusive, and madly in love with my mother who kept him tethered on a tenuous lead. I was afraid of him, and I loved him.
Now, as an older adult, I can admire all that he overcame to make a wonderful life for his family, of which I’m the only remaining member. He was born on a farm in Milwaukee, the son of Polish/Italian parents. His father, Nick Albany, died at the age of 24 of rheumatic fever. His mother remarried and provided a stable if not meager home for him and his sister.
Dad began his career in show business. He was in Ziegfeld Follies and became “The Human Echo.” He’d say whatever you were saying (in English or any foreign language) simultaneously. It used to annoy the hell out of me because he’d do the echo bit when I was upset…I felt he was mocking me. I see now he was probably just trying to add some levity to my immature angst.
Once he was married and there were little ones to consider, he joined the Army Air Corps, which later became the Air Force. This career allowed us to travel all over the world, and we lived in Japan and France. I wasn’t so thrilled as a youngster about being away from cool American stuff when I lived in foreign countries, but today I can see my broad outlook of the world is based on these foreign living situations, for which I am now immensely grateful.
Dad died 38 years ago, and I miss him. He was a pain sometimes, especially when he’d make a pass at one of my girlfriends, but I am grateful for all that he did for us. He wanted the best for us and took pride in being able to give us something special in life. His trouble was with my mother. My sister and I just got caught in the middle as so often happens to kids.
This Father’s Day I will think of him fondly, forgive all his foibles and wish he was here to see how well I’ve done under his early tutelage.