ON FATHER’S DAY, SHE FEELS MORE LUCKY THAN GOODBy Louise Cunningham
“Lucky, you’re doin’ good,” he’d say, and 36 years after his death at age 62, he still does—presumably while sitting on my right shoulder, up near my ear, which explains why I can hear him so clearly. He never explained why he called me Lucky. Nobody did. I never knew.
But it made me—the younger of his two girls—feel special. I loved my dad and hated him, as growing girls are wont to do. I know now that he was human, with way more frailties than most. He wasn’t like those men who went to work every day, maybe went to church every week, went to the school play, paid the bills and were there when the kids needed them. But it doesn’t mean that my father wasn’t worthy of a “Best Dad” trophy. And I miss him like crazy on Father’s Day.
My dad quit high school in the 11th grade to help support his parents and six brothers and sisters. That’s what the oldest child in the family did in 1930, during the heart of the Great Depression. My dad sold shoes–then and for the rest of his life. He supported his family but was never a success to himself. He leaned on his younger daughter to bring home that trophy.
I always wanted to write and he encouraged it. Even in the eighth grade we collaborated on my first short story, “The Brass Door Knob Mob.” It was never printed anywhere. God, how I wish I had a scrap of that piece to read about the gangsters we concocted, who were trapping people in their homes with no door knobs. It was dreadful, no doubt, but it was me and my dad sitting on the steps of the garage together on a Sunday afternoon, reading our piece. Those were tricky days, trying to keep him sober and interested in things other than oblivion.
Later, after his death, his youngest brother told me, “Your dad was the smartest man I ever knew. And, he was the best big brother ever. He spent money he earned to buy me something to wear to high school. I had one of the first new styles ever–a jacket with a zipper in the front.” Later my dad sent this brother a necktie while he was fighting in the Pacific in WWII – because everyone was supposed to have a Christmas tie. The “after shave” lotion he sent didn’t hurt much either, if you know what I mean.
When we are young and angry we don’t realize how we’ll feel about those closest to us as years go by. How we wish we had one moment with them to tell them what they meant to our lives. It’s a lesson to those who still have that chance. Mend that fence. Send that card. Hug that man. Happy Father’s Day, man.