A TAIL

 

Having children certainly gives you pause to reflect, although with all the chaos and diapers, usually your reflections consist of, “When was the last time I ate… I can’t believe they are watching Pokémon again…Was that the doorbell or a ringing in my ears… When was the last time I showered…”

 

But then there are those quiet moments when you find yourself alone, typically in the bathroom, and you think back to your own journey. The years of struggle trying to reach the New World, setting sail on that ship, no wait, that’s An American Tail. I’m referring to my formative years at home.

 

DAD

 

My father was my hero. A gentleman in the truest sense of the word. He was well-respected in his field, a WWII navy veteran, and a man of principle. He loved his wife and kids and was a wonderful role model. He was an only child whose father died before he could walk. I often think that’s what made him such an exceptional dad; he had no preconceived notions of what a father should be.

 

My dad passed when I was sixteen and while that is a painfully young age to lose a parent, I was immensely grateful for the time we had together. My philosophy is, I would rather have had sixteen years with my father than a lifetime with anyone else. No other man could have been as exceptional a father as mine was.

 

So even though I was only able to enjoy my father’s company for sixteen short years, I feel (and hope) I learned a great deal from him. He taught me the enormous responsibility that goes with fatherhood, and the joy that comes from it. The importance of patience and humor in whatever you do and the sense of intimacy a father can share with his child.

 

MOM

 

Besides my father, I was blessed to have a wonderful mother as well. My mom taught me more through her actions and deeds than through her words. Mom was always doing for others and it had been that way her entire life. Whether it was my dad, my sister and I, her parents, our kids, her friends, her siblings or a stranger in the grocery store, my mom went out of her way for others. She did not seem at peace unless she had a cause to champion and a person to care for.

 

OTHERS

 

As you can see, I have had some wonderful parental role models. Beyond my immediate family I have an incredible wife, amazing sister, caring uncles, aunts, cousins, and friends who have helped assemble for me a loving bridge that led to the development of Dadlands. Actually, after all that foundation being laid, at worst I should do a decent job at fatherhood, I strive for better than that.

 HAVE A SEAT!

 

They have resided in various locales over the past half century, never traveling much further than San Francisco and Pacifica. From certain angles they look every bit of their fifty plus years and then when the light hits them just right, they could be on display in a fine furniture store.

 

No one quite seems to understand why they are taking up space in this less than spacious home. They don’t go with the décor, if you could call it that. Early eclectic? Post college? But the nostalgia ingrained in the fine leather, and the stitching becoming frayed around the edges from so much usage, tell the story of two wonderful men. That is why it is inconceivable to think of parting with the ol’ leather chairs.

 

GREEN CHAIR

 

These are the men who epitomized “the Greatest Generation”. Both after having served in World War II  came home from the conflict, resumed their careers, married their true loves, and became the unlikeliest of friends. The first, the green leather chair, was a Midwesterner through and through. If he had seconds of potatoes at dinner, he also had to take a helping of meat and vegetables so it would all “balance”. He was a barber by trade, barber pole and all, taking over his father’s shop and even living upstairs with his bride for a time.

 

BURGUNDY CHAIR

 

The other, the burgundy chair, was from upstate New York, Rochester to be exact, who didn’t marry until ’52 because he was caring for his ailing mother who was suffering from dementia. A flight surgeon in the Navy, he came home to San Francisco to resume his Radiology practice, unaware that it was there he would meet the new hire and love of his life.

 

The green and burgundy chair met because their wives were sisters and, rather than focus on their different paths, they bonded over common interests. The ever-burgeoning families they had married into and their love of sports, attending countless Niner and Warrior games together. When the teams were on the road, they would sit in their respective leather chairs and enjoy the wins and struggle through the losses. On occasion the burgundy chair’s curly haired son could join them and enjoy their camaraderie as well as the game.

 

Their friendship was all too brief, as the green chair passed from lung cancer in the Fall of ’74. The burgundy chair only lasted three more years before succumbing to a massive heart attack. So, you must understand by now why it is impossible to part with burgundy and green. I can still see burgundy sitting in his chair leafing through his medical journals. And there is green, watching the Niners in his chair with a row of bowling trophy’s standing like an honor guard on the credenza behind him.

 

They are so much more than leather and stitching to me. They are symbols of an unlikely pair who became so close green chair was the best man at burgundy’s wedding, whom he affectionately called “Doc”.