My father was the youngest of 9 boys of an immigrant Polish family. 9 boys! Wow! Many days I silently ask my Babci to send me inspiration. I only have 2 kids and some days I can barely manage. But years ago things were different. Because my father was so young, he was frequently forgotten about and had to take care of himself. I think that was what made him into the great man that he turned out to be.
Well, back in those post depression days, if you had a lot of sons the church basically expected you to send one into the priesthood. (A lot of families generously did this because it would mean one less mouth to feed.) None of my uncles had been 'called' and so many of them ended up drafted into WWII that it seemed my father would be the one to go. So I think the whole family started to prepare for Daddy to enter the priesthood and in this process my father attained a nickname: 'Rev', as in reverend.....
He never did end up in the priesthood, obviously. He met my mother on a blind date and as they say, the rest is history. But he kept his nickname.
He called himself 'Rev' and so did everyone else, including my mother. All of my cousins called him 'Uncle Rev'. It was all I ever knew as his name. It was one of the things that made him so unique. Everyone knew Rev. When he bought his long dreamed of 30 foot cabin cruiser my sisters and I begged him to name it 'Rev It Up!'. He was a humble man and very grateful to my mother for allowing him to have such a luxury as a boat so he ended up naming it after her, much to our chagrin.
Rev was every one's friend. People seemed to flock to him and he always had a smile on his face. In fact he smiled so much that, while he lay in his coffin, people at his wake mused that even in death he was smiling.
It's not to say that he didn't have a temper. My mother would tell you that he used to bottle everything up until he exploded but after his first heart attack in his early 40's, he just let it all hang out. A couple of his temper incidents have grown into family lore. During the 1970's gas crisis, Daddy waited patiently in line to get gasoline. During that time you could only get gas on certain days based on the last number on your license plate. And even then you frequently had to wait in crazy long lines. So as Daddy waited in line one day, a much younger man quickly pulled in and cut in front of my father. Daddy got out of his car and calmly asked the guy, "Are you prepared to go to the hospital today?".......
Another time, my parents had taken my best childhood friend, Debbie, and I to a dinner theater to see my favorite play, Brigadoon, for our 8th grade graduation gift. The dinner theater was tiered so you would be sitting below the table above you. The man at the table above us had taken his shoes off and we were eating dinner. My father was so offended by the smell emanating down to us that he started to try to get the guy's attention. "SIR! SIR! SIR! Would you MIND putting your shoes on???!!!" As humiliated as we were then, the memory makes me laugh to this day!
He was such a blessing to so many people but I was lucky enough to have this man as my father. My goal is to smile as much in my lifetime as he did in his. If that's the only legacy I can leave behind then it will be a fitting tribute to the man who raised me.