Father's Day and Mother's Day are always tricky days for those of us from less-than-perfect families.
Usually I work very hard to ignore it all.
Some years, on Mother's Day, on Facebook, I post one of my favorite images of Mary, the Vierge Bleu from Chartres Cathedral's stained glass. This is my way of saying that I do have a loving mother.
This year I looked at a gloriously handsome photo of my dad, Tony Goska.
I decided to accentuate the positive. Just do a stream of consciousness, "Thank you for…" post. What I wrote is below.
Thank you for being so handsome.
Thank you for that gorgeous black hair. Even in your casket you were never completely gray, or bald.
Thank you for never getting fat. A working man with a tight waist right to the end. "Working men have shoulders bigger than their bellies" and you sure did.
Thank you for beating the Japs and saving the world. You saw heavy combat in the Pacific. You rode in the same Jeep with Mac
*You risked your life* for the freedoms we enjoy. When people say "Oh, I can't do this or that I risk too much," I think of you.
Thank you for teaching me, in true Polak fashion, to always, always, always, see both sides, and never take the popular side, but to always tell the truth and go with what seems right.
But never invest too much in worldly things because, as Poland's history shows, you can be invaded from the right, from Nazi Germany, and from the left, from Communist Russia, at the same time.
Thank you for being a true Pole and believing in what is right above what is popular.
Thank you for telling me that we came to America "because the Czars burned our books." That's just so freaking beautiful. You loved to read. You were a thinker. You told me Grandma never learned to read. I don't know if that's true.
Thank you for telling me about Grandma attending subversive meetings in a Catholic Church basement in Poland.
Thank you for telling me that you had a wonderful life, in spite of all the incredible pain you endured, which I know ... I know, Daddy. I know how hurt you were. I know. But you said, "I've had a wonderful life. "
The only thing you'd change, you said, was "Phil and Mike." Your sons, whom you buried. If you had been here for Antoinette, it would have killed you. She insisted that she was your favorite.
Thank you for telling me about coming up from the coal mines, "Face as black as them shoes."
Thank you for telling me about the mine bosses, "Get me a hunky. I need a donkey."
Thank you for singing to me, "Without you, Little Diane, I'd die."
Thank you for the passion with which you drove. Everytime I get behind the wheel of a car, and feel ready for the Indy 500, and so disappointed by the puny routes I actually do take, I think of you.
Thank you for your features that I see everytime I look in the mirror.
We had a family that was ... not perfect.
But I always loved you, Daddy. How could I not.