Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oh, My Papa!

To me, he was so wonderful...
I'm quite sure I'm dating myself, but I remember so well the words to the song, "Oh, My Papa", sung by Eddie Fisher,  'back in the day'!  Something like, "Oh, my Papa - to me he was so wonderful, oh, my Papa..."  Can I get an amen from anyone out there?  That's a song I have always loved and brings to mind the man I loved, who was my dad.

Lately, I've been missing my father. Seems strange because he died over thirty years ago. Some losses we never quite get over. We manage them. We adjust to them. But, we never completely close the book on them. I think that's the way God wants it. He wants us to remember and to look forward to a great re-union in heaven someday. I am totally there! I cannot wait to see the big, gentle, Irish cop that I was privileged to call Dad. It will be well worth the wait...

I have decided to post a little loving tribute I wrote for my father on Father's Day last year. I know it's not Father's Day. But, it could be as far as I'm concerned. He is on my mind so much. I miss you, Dad. This is for you.

A good dad is simply irreplaceable...
I lost my father 33 years ago this summer and I still miss him like it was yesterday. I celebrate my dad this Father's Day with a few snap shot memories of him as I was growing up. This is especially for my kids, some of whom remember him well, and some of whom never knew him...

Earliest memory of him - placing my tiny feet on top of his (size 13!) and dancing around the room with me to his favorite Al Jolson record! I knew I had found my first love at the age of 3 or 4!

Him insisting my sister, Kathy, and I, sing "Jesus Loves Me, This I Know" into the new tape recorder he had just purchased. Age 6 or 7.

Him loving Christmas! Decorating the "flocked" Christmas Tree he had purchased and then setting colored flood lights under it so that it changed from pink to blue! He thought it was fabulous. We were so embarrassed by his lack of subtlety and sophistication! Age 9 or 10.

Him (6'3) coming up behind my mother (5'1) and hugging and kissing her unabashedly in front of all of us kids! We were mortified and in love with him for it, all at the same time! He loved my mother and wasn't afraid to show it - all through his life... Age 11 or 12

Him working two or three jobs most of his life to feed and clothe his eight children.

Him, dressed in full uniform (he was a Chicago cop), with a gun on his hip, a shoulder holster, and a "snub nose" concealed in his sock, placing a rosary in his chest pocket and saying a prayer unfailingly just before he left for work on the midnight shift. I watched this with amazement as this big, powerful cop acknowledged his need for God and asked for His help every night before he left for work. Every time a siren went off, I envisioned my father in a gun battle that took his life. To this day, I say a prayer of safety every time I see a police car with lights on, siren blasting, on the way to a crime scene. Most of us never realize the danger a police officer is in every day that he goes to work. But you can be sure the reality of that risk is always on the minds of the wife and children he or she has left waiting at home.

His big hands cradling my daughter, Christy, his first grandchild!

Passing out cigars the day his first grandson, Don (his namesake), was born! Loving every time a new grandchild was born. He reveled in being a grandfather.

Him struggling with adjusting to the loss of his leg in the last two years of his life. He was a brittle diabetic and lost his leg to gangrene. He was only 52. This was an enormous trial for him and one that he tried to meet with faith and grace. He met the challenge when he came to visit me with his new "artificial leg" that he was still battling to accept. When he tried climbing the stairs and couldn't, he removed the leg prompting my daughter, Kim, (age around 5) to run screaming from the room that "Grampa took off his leg"! I watched him laugh and laugh for the first time since his amputation, even though I knew he was still grieving the loss of a part of himself that represented his independence and strength.

Him in the hospital, dying from lung cancer at the age of 54. I loved him dearly and had never lost anyone to death before. In the midst of excruciating pain, he looked at me with a twinkle in his eye, and a smile on his face and told me not to worry - he was going to see Jesus and what could be better than that.

The last two years of his life had taken him through a journey of pain and suffering that led him to a rock solid faith in Jesus as his Savior. He knew where he was going and wasn't afraid...

He wasn't perfect. He was just human - flawed and in need of grace like the rest of us. But I loved him and still do. He was my dad and I thank God for him every day.

He loved my mother, his kids, his grand-kids and his Savior. Not necessarily in that order. Not a bad legacy for a Chicago cop with a 6th grade education. Remembering you today, Dad. I have never stopped missing you...

"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, 
nor has it entered into the heart of man,
the things which God has prepared for those who love him..." 1 Cor. 2:9


  1. Keep on posting, PLEASE!!! What a wonderful father the Lord gave you. I thought of my own dad as I read about dancing on his feet. :)


    1. Such an incredible blessing to have a good dad! You'll have to tell me about yours sometime... :)


  2. You just described how I feel about my grandfather Joe now death 31 years. Guess who was named after him?

  3. My best memory of grandpa Carroll was when he brought that ceramic witch over to the house in Richton Park for Halloween. It was magical, every kid there was entranced by it. He was a very special person, I barely knew him but he was in my life for perhaps some of the most important childhood years, when creativity is really sparked. He made me want to make stuff, imaginative kinds of stuff. A very nice tribute, Sani.

  4. That's a good one, honey. I had forgotten about that until I read this. He had hidden a recorder in his pocket and every time one of you took a lollipop out of the witch's pot, he pressed the button so that it sounded like the witch was cackling! You guys were mesmerized and he loved it! Thanks for the memory, honey. He would love to know that you got your creative spark from him!


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