Phase I

Travels with Dad

—-This is a story of a complex relationship with my father, Al, who I came to love and understand after he was diagnosed with dementia.—-

As I’ve written about my father over the last few weeks, and reflected on my relationship with him, it has occurred to me that my connections with him throughout the years can be roughly categorized into 4 phases.

This is how I see the phase I, the early years:

I was young, oblivious and happy.  My main concerns were playing, eating, and sleeping.   My secondary concerns were about singing Benny and the Jets with my friends, listening to the 45 of Jeremiah was a Bull Frog, catching Tom Jones’ “She’s a Lady” on the humming radio, and singing Bye, Bye Miss American Pie by myself while swinging on the swing set.

After dinner during nice weather, a field game of baseball or kickball commenced with neighborhood kids, fern forts were built in the woods, and back yard snow tunnels were constructed in the winter months, led by our local, young, civil engineer, my brother, Vincent.

Those early years were also characterized by trips to Story Town, Frontier Town, and to swim lessons.   Peanut butter, jelly, and fluffernutter sandwiches were plentiful.   My friend Terry and I had the ambition to start our own language.  I think we got as far as a “new” word for “water”.   Anticipation of the arrival of Teen Magazine each month was palpable.

I can remember Dad taking me, and only me, to the Saratoga diner for breakfast.  He took me to see my mother who was in the hospital after I begged him.  He even took me Pheasant hunting one day.  I’m not sure what he was thinking when he did that, but the hunt ended quickly when he drew his gun to shoot a bird, and I screamed.  The bird lived.  He never took me hunting again.

The only trouble I ever got in was…..well I really can’t think of anything.    Life was good and magical.

My relationship with Dad was fun.

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