In honor of Father’s Day, June 17th, I’d like to introduce our readers to my father, Joseph (Joe). He embodied all of the qualities to which I was drawn and try to emulate. My only regret is that he died early in my life which didn’t give us a chance to bond as adults nor did he have the opportunity of meeting my wife and children.
Actually, words will do very little to paint a picture of my father since he was truly a man of few words. He was a quiet and dignified gentleman. My Dad had a way about him … otherwise called a countenance … that people looked to for support and solace. I can’t remember one time when he lost his temper or raised is voice to me. Although he had minimal education, he possessed a remarkable ability to deal with numbers with his mind without pencil and paper. He came from the very same Sicilian valley-town that my mother did, Vallelunga, when he was about six years old. He and his parents were accompanied by his brothers who settled in the Buffalo, New York City and the San Jose, California, areas. My father’s number one priority, bar none, was his family to whom he was totally dedicated.
He was a principled, hard working and dedicated man who stood by and up to his reputation with family, friends and neighbors. The respect shown him was clearly manifested upon his death when there was a constant flow of people who came to his funeral to pay their respects … people who had worked for him twenty and thirty years previously. He was very ill but I am convinced that he remained alive just to see me graduate from college in 1960. Above all, he valued my education because of his limited involvement in it. His encouragement for my remaining and doing well in school was this: “They can take away your valuables and even your life but they can never take away your education.” I never forgot those words as they steered me through eighteen years of education even when many of my friends were out playing while I sat in my room studying and doubting them.
My father was a dynamic businessman. In those days, you were trained both as a barber and beautician, vocations that he worked in for some while. The story goes that although he was working for someone else at the time, and with my mother’s urging, he opened his first beauty parlor … one block away from his former employer’s place of business. He was very successful, leading him to open another in a suburb that he had my eldest sister, Laura, oversee. In his youth, he apparently was quite a baseball player playing first base. My mother, who was engaged to him at the time, disapproved of his doing so but he was able to sneak away without her knowledge. Then, one day when he was off playing, his future wife decided to come and visit and as she sat on his front
porch, she saw her beloved approaching in his full regalia baseball uniform. It is said that a severe groin injury ended his career but his love of the sport continued. Of course, his favorite team were the NY Yankees probably mainly because of the number of Italian players on the team DiMaggio, Berra, Rizzuto, et al).
Later on after a failed attempt to make a new life in California, we came back to Buffalo where he began working as a barber for an employer. Shortly thereafter, he opened his own shop which was only two blocks from our home. He was a neighborhood barber and his clientele consisted of many of our friends and neighbors. Of course, in this way, he was able to keep in touch with my shenanigans in the neighborhood. Back then, I got a haircut every week. As I sat in his chair, he might ask me about Mrs. Jones’ garden having been pillaged and wondered whether I knew anything about it. The question would be asked as he was strapping the razor to finish the cutting. There was no question that the truth would prevail under those circumstances.
I was only in my early twenties when Dad died so I really wasn’t able to form an adult bond with him. This is something I miss terribly to this day. However, I have a great imagination and I often play out scenarios in my mind as to what he and I would have done had he lived. In some respects, that satisfies my sense of deprivation for his absence. I know that he would have been overjoyed with my marriage and family … especially his role as a grandfather, or Nanno, as he would be called. I have taken many lessons from his values and the living of his life and trying to have them become my own throughout my lifetime. He was truly someone I looked to and still look to for the kind of strength to endure hard times and thoroughly enjoy the good times. In my mind, he’s still with me … always. Happy Father’s Day Dad.
(30 May 2012)
Both as a consultant and author, Charles Bonasera’s story-telling have motivated people to change patterns and resolve problems in their lives. All of his books contain valuable, practical lessons that people can easily apply to bettering and managing their lifestyles. He has also written a myriad of articles which can be found on his website at www.charlesmbonasera.com.