Sunday, June 16, 2013

Vacation, Father's Day and Old Photos

Our trip to Chicago was wonderful.  In addition to us all needing some time away, the weather was gorgeous, the wedding we went to see was wonderful, and it was great catching up with some old friends.

As we schlepped across the city (no car rental for us!) memories of my dad popped into my head over and over.  We'd never been to Chicago as a family growing up, so it wasn't that.  It was more like the old adage that you marry a man like your father.  And I did.

I remember as a kid we'd travel somewhere every summer.  My dad was a teacher at the local community college and when summer school was over (he'd always teach summer school and night school to earn a little extra money) we'd head somewhere - Manhattan Beach (to house sit for my aunt), Oregon (to visit my mother's brother and his family), Minnesota (to visit more of my mom's relatives) or to England and France.

My dad, me and Marcus, the retriever, in Rye, England, 1980.

My dad's mother's side of the family had roots in England.  He always cherished that part of himself.  He made frequent pilgrimages to Bexhill-on-Sea in Sussex to visit his elderly aunt.  Every couple of years, he'd bring the family with him, finances allowing.  He was not a typical American tourist.  We took public transit, we stayed in small hotels or B&B's, we walked from place to place and ate at local pubs or restaurants.  He valued friendships made during WWII, so we would do whatever it took to travel to visit those friends who were important to him.  I can still remember sitting at the dinner table of a friend in France where they served up something on a platter with the head still on.  Didn't faze my father a bit.  I kind of lost my appetite.

Sitting in the garden with his friends in France in 1980.  I still correspond with one of them every Christmas.

The memories that flowed through my brain while in Chicago were ones of my father leading the suitcase brigade from airport to transit station to hotel - brisk pace, not allowing time for complaint, two children whining and wiping sweat from their foreheads.  These were the days of luggage sans wheels and foldable luggage trolleys that never worked as well as you had hoped.  In addition to his relentless traverse across town, he was the constant student - asking people about the towns they lived in, asking about the local economy and history, never running out of questions.  We'd groan and roll our eyes and impatiently wait to move on to the next stop.  While in Chicago, there was a hint of this (I'm sure my father was watching from above getting a chuckle or two) as the four of us crossed town from the L station to the hotel, dragging 2 pieces of luggage apiece, the sun coming out from behind the clouds and my husband leading the second generation brigade.  Yes, I still complained.  But it was almost deja vu and ultimately I found myself thinking about dad rather than how far we had to go and how uncomfortable I was.  A few of the nights downtown were spent at different Chicago pizza places - ones that my husband had loved from his youth.  As we went in each one, he struck up conversations about downtown, the South Side, the Sox, the Cubbies, Wrigley Field, Comiksy Park, anything and everything Chicago.  Being a salesman, he knows how to make people feel important and to strike up a great conversation.  Shades of my dad.


On the train to Calais, France.  Note the baguette and the bottle of wine, 1980.


On this Father's Day I send a hug to my dad and tell him that I did, indeed, marry a man like him (in more ways than noted above - but that's another blog post!) and I believe that my 30 year marriage is testament to my wise choice (or was it my husband's choice??)  Either way, love you dad.  And I still hate walking with suitcases.  Sorry.



My husband, son-in-law and daughter in Chicago, 2013.