June 14, 2014: Father’s Day!

When I think of my father, I remember a man who was kind and generous, but stubborn and suspicious by nature.  Someone funny and fun-loving, but a little quick-tempered.  A loving husband and father, but a man who, occasionally, took things a tad too personally.  In short, my father was a complicated and colorful man – and, really, what else would you expect from someone who grew up in the Montreal of the 30’s and 40’s, riding the streetcars and getting into all sorts of trouble with likes of Blackie, Skeeviks, and a bunch of other guys with nicknames right of the The Little Rascals.

My father would reflect back fondly on those days, and many of the stories he’d tell us would echo that colorful and complicated personality.  Like the time he and his sister Antoinette received a bunch of his favorite chocolates: Cherry Blossoms (you know, those chocolates with the liquid maraschino centers).  Of course, being his favorites, he finished his off in no time.  My aunt, on the other hand, saved hers, lining them up all nice and neat on the kitchen counter.  Eventually, when she finally got around to eating them, she was in for a surprise.  They were empty.  Not the boxes, but the chocolates themselves.  Someone had gone through the trouble of carefully cutting open the bottom of each individual chocolate, eating the liquid enter, and then putting them back.  The story had a happy ending for my auntie Antoinette though.  My father eventually bought her a bunch of Cherry blossoms to replace the ones he had eaten.  Mischievous but thoughtful.  That was my dad.

Later, when the second world war began, he felt honor-bound to enlist in the navy –  but not responsible enough to tell them the truth about his age: he was 16 at the time.

He was, by all accounts, a bit of a ladies’ man  (my grandmother would chase the girls off their property with a wooden spoon) and yet, when the right woman came along, he was perfectly happy to commit to married life and, later, fatherhood.

Every day, when my sister and I were growing up, he would come home from work at approximately 5:15 p.m. every day and prepare dinners like roasted stuffed chicken, Duck a L’Orange, and Lobster Termidor – but was at his happiest chowing down on simpler fare: pork hocks, Chinese buffet, and, of course, KFC hot wings. And he loved his Cheese Puffs.  I remember dropping by the house unexpectedly one day, walking by the kitchen, and catching him red-handed – actually, orange-handed AND orange-mouted – dipping into his hidden stash.

Yes, my father loved food – even later in life when he was loving it maybe just a little too much.  His doctor advised him to follow a strict diet.  No more bread.  No more pasta or fried foods.  It would be steamed vegetables and lean cuts of meat from hereon in.  That lasted about two days.  My mother tried – steaming those vegetables and cooking those lean meats – but my father would have none of it. He’d complain.  He’d skip dinner.  And, eventually, my mother gave in and cooked him the things he would actually eat.  Of course, when they’d go back to see the doctor, there was no hiding the fact that he hadn’t been following his diet.  The doctor was understandably annoyed and called him on what he’d been eating: the breads, the pasta, the fried foods.  To which my father replied: “That’s just the way my wife cooks.”

He slowed down considerably in the last few years of his life and he wasn’t able to get around like he used to, but being homebound wasn’t a problem because, as much as my father loved people, he loved relaxing at home even more.  I’d call every night from Vancouver and, he’d be in the living room singing along to country tunes I’d never heard of, or “Watching Kramer” as he’d call Seinfeld, or in the kitchen watching my mother fix dinner, or spending time with his best buddy, Max, his cat.  Still, he remained kind, generous, fun and loving – but stubborn, suspicious, touchy, and quick-tempered.  Age certainly didn’t temper that wildly varied personality.

So, in celebrating my father’s memory this Father’s Day, I remember him –

Not just as someone modern enough to enjoy good sushi, but a man who used antiquated expressions like “pop, “Play the Iggy” and “Wouldn’t that jar your preserves.”

Not just as a terrific dancer, an  accomplished cook, and a great guitar player, but a a man who, one summer while my mother was in Italy, had to do the laundry for the first time and ended up working up a sweat ironing towels.

Not just as a man who was generous enough to sponsor his wife’s sisters so that they could come to Canada, but as someone who, as a kid, ate a spoonful of chicken fat he’d mistaken for pudding and then tried to convince his sister Jeanettte that it wasn’t pudding, it was delicious, and she should try some too.

I remember him as a complicated and colorful man.

25 thoughts on “June 14, 2014: Father’s Day!

  1. Joe, thanks so much for sharing those wonderful memories. He definitely sounds like he was an interesting and vibrant fellow. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in some ways! They’d say that about me and my Dad too actually – I’m probably more like him than any of my siblings, so his loss 3 years ago this month on the 20th still makes me sad. He passed away the day after Father’s Day, 2011, and was up until the week before so very concerned about getting the oil changed in his car (which he always did himself).

    I kept promising that I was going to have it done, but never found the time. So, on Father’s Day, when he was already in palliative care and the end was a day away, I got up very early and drove back to his house where the car was and changed the oil myself – in tears most of the time. All his tools were sitting in the basement just as he had left them the last time he went upstairs.

    So, amidst all my meltdowns and memories, I got it done and was able to go in to the hospital and tell him that I had gotten the oil changed and I did it myself. I don’t know if he heard me at all as he would be unconscious until the end, but I like to think so.

    Sorry, reading that back it’s a bit of a downer! But, I have so many wonderful memories of him that I can’t think of anything negative. We had a great relationship right until the end.

    Speaking of Cherry Blossoms – remember this ad? Was everyone on drugs in the 70’s?? 🙂

  2. He sounds like he was wonderful. I think you take after him.

    Happy Father’s Day!

  3. Awww…such a beautiful and loving tribute to your daddy. Thanks so much for sharing it with us all, Joe. 🙂


  4. Wonderful stories! You made your dad come alive for me. Thanks for introducing him to us!

  5. Sounds like your dad was a wonderful man. And a good dad to have raised a guy like you (and a woman like your sister, too).

    Happy Father’s Day to JeffW and all you other dads on the blog.

    @baterista: I went with a tour group through a company called Academic Arrangements Abroad. They do cool trips..

    @whoviantrish: I would definitely recommend Iceland. It was pretty amazing. And the rest of the trip was wonderful as well.

  6. Chicken fat…

    My sister in law gave us some fancy home made soap for Christmas one year. It looked exactly like chocolate maple fudge. I cut off three small pieces and gave one to my children while I pretended to eat one myself.

    I’ll never forget the look on their faces. I laughed for days. I still keep fudge on hand just so I can offer it to them. This was done, of course, as a life lesson not to trust strange men with candy. I think my children would agree that I am a strange man. Yes, I made it up to them with real fudge. I’m not a monster. I just enjoy the occasional practical joke. Especially after my daughter waited in the hall in the early morning in the dark when I got up to go to the washroom, jumped out and screamed bloody murder. She thought it was the funniest thing ever, I nearly wet myself. I don’t know where she gets it from.

    BTW, for those who are interested, a new Stargate novel in the Legacy series is coming out next month. The Legacy series was written by Jo Graham and Amy Griswold, they did a great job on all the first six books, IMHO. This will be the seventh in the series. My only complaint is they are too short. I have no financial interest in the books, I just enjoy reading them and hope that a large enough audience buys them so they will be continued to be published.

    STARGATE ATLANTIS: Unascended by Jo Graham and Amy Griswold, available July 2014.

    I just read the latest Jim Butcher novel Skin Game, of which I was reminded of here by someone, sorry I don’t recall your name, but thank you for reminding me. I really enjoyed this book, I thought it was one of his better of late. It had a few soft spots, but well worth the read. I’m not sure that would be true if you haven’t read the previous books in the series. But it could be. I did and so I knew the back story, but it might not matter for those who haven’t.
    Have I waffled sufficiently?

  7. Happy father’s day to all!

    In Italy & Spain according to the Roman Catholic tradition, fathers are celebrated on Saint Joseph’s Day, commonly called Fiesta de San José (“Festa di San Giuseppe”), March 19. So, normal day for me.

  8. Happy Fur Fathers Day to you for your furry children, the pugs and the Frenchie.

    My dad was a WW II vet and a member of the Canadian Armed Forces for most of his life. I grew up as an Air Force brat. We lived in Montreal (St. Hubert on the South Shore) for 8 years. There was always something to do in Montreal. Dad also loved to go fishing and would take his daughters with him. However, if we were going fishing and caught something, he expected us to clean it. My interest in fishing lasted one season because of that.

    He also put up with quite a lot from his daughters. There was the year when, now living in North Bay, Ontario, I was playing around a rocky area behind the house where I happened upon a garter snake. I avoided it and with one step backward, managed to get two puncture wounds in my leg from a branch. My 8 year old self ignored the fact that the injury was from a branch and ran home yelling I got bitten by a snake. My father, in a panic, rushed me to the hospital. After an hour being examined by several doctors who had never experienced a child with poison in her system from a snake bite, one senior doctor approached my dad, and loud enough for all the medical personnel to hear, told him, “There are no poisonous snakes in Ontario”.

    My dad died just before Christmas in 2000. At least he got to experience the first year of the new millennium before he passed away. He spent it watching German/Allied battles on the History channel. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

  9. Nice write up Joe, and a very nice sentiment on Father’s Day. I hope you are feeling better today, but with the slow pacing of comments, I suspect that you’re still under the weather. I’m sending prayers your way!

    After some prep work this morning, I’ve got the smoker full of meat that’s scheduled to come out around 5pm. Beef brisket, a whole chicken (I’m smoking the giblets too), country ribs, ham hocks, and bacon trimmings…just about all the major food groups! 😉

    I’ve got the bacon trimmings and ham bits on the top shelf, so their drippings should help flavor everything below. Oh and I’ll be frying up some Okra too, and Barb’s making some slaw. I just have to remember to make some Carolina BBQ sauce to complete the menu.

    We have my oldest daughter and her husband coming over, a family friend will be joining us, and my daughter Jackie invited one of her friends over, so a pretty full house.

    Happy Father’s Day everyone!

  10. Is that you and Sis in the middle picture with your Dad? Too cute! Also, you haven’t aged a day! Well, maybe a couple. 😉

  11. Very lovely stories, thanks for sharing.

    Upon your recommendation Joe, I’m now reading “The Lions of Al-Rassan”, my first book from Guy Gavriel Kay. You were quite correct, this author is worth reading as he creates richly woven detail of character and place. I’m thoroughly enjoying this one, on my Kindle.


  12. G’day

    A really lovely tribute to your Dad. Thanks for sharing with all of us.

    Happy Fathers Day to all fathers on the blog.

    Fathers day in Australia is in September. Weird.

  13. Great memories. I would have loved to hear what he would be doing and saying today. Sorry you lost him.

  14. What a great tribute to your Dad on this Father’s Day! Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories.

    Happy Father’s Day to all the Dad’s out there!

  15. I agree with others here, your tribute to your father was fantastic Joe, I’m sure he’s proud of you, and appreciates it.

  16. Now I see where the famous Mallozzi dimples come from!

    My dad wouldn’t talk about his past until he hit 80 and then he started telling these stories of his wild youth. My mom and dad never ran out of things to talk about; every morning they’d have some animated conversation going in the kitchen so you had the choice of listening to them rattling pots and chattering away or getting up to find out what the heck was so interesting; usually politics. They couldn’t of picked Beyonce out of a lineup but they new everything about global and local politics.

  17. What a beautiful tribute. And I have to stop catching up here for now as I have pet sits to go take care of.

    Canada has a Navy? (I kid, I kid). My dad was a Navy man. So was my father-in-law.

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