Frank, Sr. and My Life

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 6, 2004

Boyfriend? Nope. Husband? Nope. I know – brother. Wrong again. I’ll end the mystery. My dad. This was a man you didn’t forget easily. He was smart, funny, and fair. He wasn’t tall and glamorous. He didn’t need to be. When you were small he could weave great stories for you such as, &uot;When you’re a big girl you’ll be a princess, a beautiful one.&uot;

You believed. Hard not to. He could draw funny pictures to tel1 his story. Rembrandt he wasn’t, but who cared? They looked great to you. He took you to wonderful places like a lumber yard where you were taught how to cut small pieces of wood and they fit each other. He said it was the beginning of a house you could live in when you grew up and married a prince. When was this prince coming? Soon. You believed. Imagine having a beautiful dream in a lumber yard! When you were sick it was always ice cream time and more beautiful stories. You believed. He made up funny stories about people acting crazy and you felt sorry for them. You were glad you weren’t crazy. New babies came but you weren’t forgotten. New names, new stories and you soon felt the new baby understood, too.

The years went by. How could you stop them? Soon it was time to go into that great world he told you about. Starting school! Teachers were nuns. He said, &uot;Like mother who dressed the same.&uot; Not my mother. She dressed beautifully, The nuns spoke softly but meant it. I liked some but Dad said we should love them all because they worked hard for God, so I tried. Not always easy. Guess they felt like us lots of times but couldn’t kick up because they spoke to God directly. Dad said sometimes they wrote to God. Wonder if they ever wrote, &uot;Wish you were here.&uot;

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Or if God ever wrote back? I should have asked them.

I asked Dad one day if nuns died and took their habits with them to heaven. He said God had a whole closet of beautiful clothes waiting for them. I believed him. I even pictured Sister Michael in a slinky black evening dress. Hope she got a date. Hate to think that black dress was wasted. He said it wasn’t. I believed him.

Report card day came. Guess what I got? A whole bunch of A’s and a holy picture for never being absent. Prizes at home were better. I got ice cream.

Seems as though I had spent my entire life with the nuns. While they were great teachers and real nice people I wanted to see faces with lipstick and a pair of high heels tapping down a hall. It was to come and it was exciting. I’ll tell you all about it very soon. You’ll 1ike it. Believe me as I believed my dad.

Florence Arena is a regular News-Herald columnist