Tom, the Father of my Children. Stylin'
"He's a Very Good Father"
One Easter weekend while visiting the "old family homestead" with my husband and children, my sister Kathy decided to invite the visiting minister for Sunday dinner. I agreed to prepare and serve the dinner and my sister agreed to go to church and then do the chatting with the minister when she brought her home. You all remember the Biblical story of the sisters Martha and Mary??? Well, that's what it was like.
Martha and Mary and Jesus (Vermeer; 1654)
Our mother was still living at home and although vision impairment and arthritis restricted her mobility, she still enjoyed social interaction. And although she could not do the cooking and the laying of the table with her bone china and silverware and pickle dishes and gravy boats and lace tablecloths, it still gave her pleasure when Martha and Mary prepared a grand meal and set a fine table. And our mother never lost the art of being a gracious hostess.
Our Table in 2014: Oliver's and Guy's Birthday
That Easter Sunday, when the 10 of us were seated around the beautifully-appointed table, our mother went around the group to ensure that the visiting minister knew everybody. When she got to Tom, she said, "And this is Tom. He's a very good father." This struck me and I later learned that it struck Tom too. Mom did not say, "This is Tom, Barbara's husband." Or, "This is Tom, a mechanical engineer." Or, "This is Tom, a financial wizard." She narrowed right in on the most important thing in Tom's life, being a good father. And not only did she recognize that fatherhood was Tom's top priority, but she was also valuing that role as top priority in her books, too.
Tom, Being a Good Father in Montreal
Tom lost his father at the age of 8 and his mother at the age of 18. When Tom and I met in our 20s, you could say he was an orphan. Many years later, when Julia was about 6 years old, she came to the realization that Tom had no parents. That upset the deep-thinking Julia so she asked my mother if she could adopt her daddy so he could have parents. My mother agreed to do so of course.
Grammy and some of her grandchildren around the time she adopted Tom.
Mom spent the last 2 years of her life in a nursing home. Tom and I often visited her there on Sundays. One Sunday Mom wanted to sort through her clothes to organize them and get rid of some. Because of her vision impairment, she needed help. For some reason, Tom sprang to the job. I remember sitting in the chair watching Tom, wearing a black Metallica T-shirt, going through Mom's undergarments with her as he stood by her bed. That's just the kind of adoptive son he was.
Tom's Metallica T-Shirt
Another day at the nursing home, Mom introduced Tom to her friend, Myrna. It went like this: "This is my son-in-law, Tom. He's quite handsome." Tom quotes that to me almost daily. Did I mention Mom's vision impairment?
Mom and Emily in the nursing home, 2010.
Tom and his daughters have strong relationships, sharing varied interests such as beets,
and leisurely days in Central Park.
Tom finds father-son companionship through countless opportunities:
Afternoon Tea Parties
The Finest of Literature
a seasoned Scrabble player,
He usually wins, I'm sorry to say.
Snow Blower Repair using Hockey Stick
Garage Door Opener Repair using Metal Bed Frame
a devoted rhubarb intern,
Macho in the Field
a passionate gourmand,
Whoever said the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, knew exactly what they were talking about.
Daddy Stories from the Mother Journals:
In my recent rediscovery of my Mother Journals, I found a few Daddy stories to give further insight into the man of the hour.
Emma, age 8: February 1996
Tom and Emma had gone to the Coop for groceries. I had specified a certain type of yogurt and margarine on the list. When they got home and I was unpacking the food, I noticed that Tom had gotten the wrong brand of yogurt and margarine.
"Oh no, he got the wrong yogurt and margarine." My voice was rather perturbed, on edge.
" Mom," Emma responded, "don't say anything to Daddy, ok? He did a pretty good job getting groceries. It doesn't really matter about the yogurt and margarine does it?"
"Well, I guess not," I acquiesced, wondering just how much I picked on Tom in front of the kids.
Julia, age 6: October, 1997
One evening at supper there was just Julia and me at the table. Tom was working in Moncton and Emma was at a friend's house. Out of the blue, Julia said, "It's kind of nice not having a man around."
"Oh," I responded, rather surprised as I thought Julia really missed Tom when he was away. "Why do you say that, Julia?"
"Oh, you know, grumpy and a beard and stuff."
Happy Father's Day, Daddy....
Until next time....