Fathers’ Day

Where should the apostrophe in that name go?

One of my dreams is to someday walk on the beach with my father and two dogs in the winter.

My parents have always been a bit uneasy about my activist tendencies, letters to the editor, etc., so I kind of didn’t tell them about this blog when I first started it.  But my dad found it, anyway, Googling my name.

So, my parents read my blog.   The big difficulty is I can’t really talk politics on the phone much anymore, which is tough since it’s my favorite discussion topic.  If I start to mention something now, it’s “I read it on your blog.”

Makes me think of “Ships”: “We only read you when you write.”

Another song about fathers that means a lot to me is “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again.”  Even though my dad’s not dead ,and hasn’t been dead for a long time, I’ve always thought of our relationship with that song.  Someday, I want one of my daughters to come to my grave and sing that song.  It will probably be Gianna, since she’s inherited my love for Phantom of the Opera.

Another song, which Barry Manilow recorded on the same album as “Ships” (One Voice) is “Sunday Father.”   I got the First Television Specials DVD set for Christmas.  In the special that came out with Ships, he talks about his relationship with his father.  The first I’ve ever heard him speak of it, other than his father leaving when he was a baby.

He said his father showed up at a concert once, and they spoke for a few minutes, and it was like, “Well, good-bye.”  He claimed it didn’t effect him that much, that it might have been a conversation with the mail-man.  Mary said, “It’s obvious from the look on his face that it effected him a great deal.”

I’ve always been fascinated by the similarities between Barry Manilow and Mother Angelica’s upbringings: both raised by divorced mothers and ethnic grandparents.  One turns to music, and a very liberal attitude on life, and alleged homosexuality.  Records a couple poignant songs about fatherhood that he claims have no particular meaning for him but only for his fans.  The other turns to religion, and a very conservative attitude, and admits that, while at first she balked at the idea of God as Father, she learned to take on God’s Fatherhood as the ideal she never knew: “The Father who keeps His promises,” as Scott Hahn puts it.

I’m really drifting here, but the “audience warm up” Friar when we went to Mother Angelica Live during our honeymoon talked about the Shrine in Hanceville, which was then just over a year old.  The commonly known part of the story was that Mother received the inspiration for the shrine when she visited a shrine to the Divino Nino in Colombia.  The shrine is built around a statue.  It was built during the 16th Century craze of devotion to the Infant that also gave us the Infant of Prague.

The priest commissioned a statue of Jesus.  The atheist sculptor produced a statue of the infant Jesus crucified.  The priest asked the sculptor to remove the crucifix, so the sculptor replaced it with a cloud.  So Jesus is standing on two feet on a cloud, with arms outstretched.

Well, this statue came alive for Mother and told her to “Build Me a Temple,” with a similar promise to that which the Infant of Prague gave to Fr. Cyril.

OK.  Well, the part of the story people don’t know is that, just before that vision, Mother was shown the sculpture of the priest who built the shrine in the 16th century.  His name was Fr. John Rizzo–the same name as her father.

She said, “At least I know there’s one good John Rizzo in the world.”

Barry Manilow’s mother and grandparents who raised him were Jewish, but his father was an Irish Catholic. 

A few months ago, I followed an inspiration that’s nagged me for years, and I ordered a copy of Raymond Arroyo’s biography of Mother Angelica from Amazon, and had it shipped to Barry Manilow, c/o the BMIFC.  I pray he gets it, in both senses of the word.

Anyway, the other song on OneVoice is called “Sunday Father,” about a divorced dad spending the day with his son.  It’s very tear-jerking. 

Then there’s “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables, a song I first heard through Barry (Showstoppers).  You’ve heard of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”?  Mine is “Six Degrees of Barry Manilow.”

“He’s like the son I might have known, if God had granted me a son.”  Mom always said she didn’t like the song.  It made her too sad about me.  I always applied it to my nephew who graduated last week.

When Josef was born, I said, “I guess I can’t like ‘Bring Him Home’ anymore.  I have a son now.”

Hopefully I’ll live long enough for it to have meaning again.

“Son, you don’t have any friends.  But people just love you.  You’re not somebody you can go to a game with or anything like that.  But people just love to be around you.”

Doc: “You can choose one person to stay in the room with you.”
“I choose Dad–”
Dad (looks at Mom) “He chose me!”
“–because Mom talks in her sleep.”

“So, Dad, I’m 8 and you’re 42.  That means, when I’m 18, you’ll be 52.  And when I’m 28, you’ll be 62.  And when I’m 38, you’ll be 72.  And when I’m 48, you’ll be . . . .you’ll be . . . You’ll be dead.”

“Dad, when I golf, I say a prayer, take a breath, and swing.  You take your swing and then do the opposite.”

But I get my own comeuppance from Allie.  There was the time she was just turned two, and it was about 2:45, and we were in the kitchen, and I was waiting for Mary to call to find out when she was coming home.

However, I started having really bad chest pain and collapsed on the floor. 
The phone rang.  Allie, in that two year old speech that seems like perfect diction when it’s your eldest child, greeted her mother and proceeded to a conversatoin.  Ikept saying, “Tell your mother I just fell and I need her to come home now!”
Allie took no notice of me.  She casually concluded her conversation and hung up. “That was mommy.”
“I know!” I growled.  “Come over here and help me.”
So she walked over to me, walked around me, looked me over, shrugged her shoulders, and proceeded to kick me in the hip. 

“OW!” I yelled.

She got this look like, “He’s OK,” and walked away.

She’s forever asking if she gets to call 911 yet. 

Ever since I took her to vote with me in the primaries last year, she’s been having periodic elections to see who the new head of household is. 

A couple months ago, I forget if the comment I’d made was that I was having really bad chest pain or that I was going out for a while.  But, whichever it was, Allie replied, “Great!  Now I get to be the father!” 

I’ve decided her new nickname is Starscream.

Clara’s like the baby on Dinosaurs, banging me on the head and screaming, “Not the Mama!”

Joe and I are still trying to figure out the whole father-son thing, but he likes it when we wrestle or duel.  I try to follow all that “raise your son to be macho” advice on EWTN, but I don’t know how well I do.

And Gianna adores me.  She gives a great hug.  She wraps her arms around my shoulders and lays her head on my shoulder.  I call it my “special Gigi hug.”  One time recently, I asked her to give me a huge, and she walked up to me, and didn’t put her arms out or lay her head on my shoulder.  I said, “I wanted a special Gigi hug!”  She smiled and said, “I know.  But I want a special Daddy hug!”  So I wrapped my arms around her.

“We’re just ships that pass in the night . .  .”

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