Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Today, I have been remembering my father, who died eleven years ago today. He was the soul of patience and kindness and one of the most devout (although private about it) Catholics I have ever known. I still miss him, although I think it is fair to say that I no longer grieve except in the general sense perhaps, that grieving, like original sin, is a part of the human condition.

I lit a candle for him on Gratefulness.org http://bit.ly/9e9ZxN Gratefulness is one of my all time favorite web sites. I was intrigued the very first time that I found it that it is possible to light the candle by clicking on the link--and then the flame flickers! It is lovely.

Papa was a handsome man, with the good looks known as "black Irish"--dark, dark brown hair with red and gold highlights, thick, curly hair and green eyes. He also had long, dark eyelashes. Mama commented on both the hair and the eyelashes in a kind of sighing, life-isn't-fair-tone, that men had all the luck. (Of course, I am sure that both attributes had helped attract her to him in the first place!)

He was not tall, but he was strong. Working after school and on weekends while he was young unloading groceries at the store's dock and stocking shelves had done for him what gym workouts do for young men today. Shoveling snow and using a push mower on the lawns of our houses as well as walking the dog kept him in shape until emphysema began to assert itself when he was in his sixties.

Shortly before I had polio, Papa was teaching me to ride a two-wheeled bike, with the "training wheels" gradually being raised on the back of it and I remember that Fall that he was teaching me to roller skate as well. He walked backwards, gently holding my hands, while I skated towards him until I could let go and then he was simply there to lend me confidence that he would catch me if I fell.

"Confidence that he would catch me if I fell", that sums up a lot about the the good fatherly relationship that he had with both his daughters. He was there for us in so many ways that we didn't even realize then, for we took it as normal that both parents would be there, but that now we look back from the vantage point of aging and see it for the tremendous gift that it was.

He took me to the airport with all my trunks and suitcases and just plain stuff when I left home for graduate school in Chicago. A few years earlier he had proudly walked my sister down the aisle of the little church we loved so much in Palo Alto, watching a few days later as her new husband's car and the u-haul it pulled rounded the corner and they drove out of sight, beginning the journey of their new life together in Ohio.

So many years later, eleven years ago this week, we all came together again as the choir he loved, and that I had once sung with, sang him home to his new life after death. I do not believe in eternal "rest", since I think it is too passive. I do hope for eternal rejoicing and I hope that includes a good bit of remembrance and reminiscing. (Papa was also blessed with the Irish gift of gab and a great story-teller.)

I don't believe that our culture values fatherhood enough, and I think that I have written about that before, here in this blog. I can remember that Papa did not like the sit-coms that were popular in the late 50's and early 60's because they made the fathers look like such dummies--or even fall-guys for the patient and always right wife, or the too smart kid. He most certainly did not fit that model!

I am grateful today for the life of this good man and the great gift of family life that I was given as a child. Grateful too for the way in which my parents instilled the old-fashioned virtues by living them every day in their marriage and their relationship to us.

It is good to have had such a father.

Frederick James Manor

February 16, 1920-June 8, 1999

Requiescat in Pace

Rejoice with the angels forever.

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