Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Fathers Day - St. Joseph, Si Blitzstein and Dad - Bless Us.

“a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame” (Matthew 1:19).

"He was chosen by the eternal Father as the trustworthy guardian and protector of his greatest treasures, namely, his divine Son and Mary, Joseph’s wife. He carried out this vocation with complete fidelity until at last God called him, saying: ‘Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord’” (St. Bernardine of Siena).

Just as the saying goes that behind every great man there is a great woman, the inspiration behind the celebration of a Father's Day is owed at least partly to its slightly earlier counterpart, Mother's Day. Mother's Day was just beginning to gather widespread attention in the United States in 1909, when Sonora Louise Smart Dodd, of Spokane, Washington, heard a sermon on the merits of setting aside a day to honor one's mother. It gave her the idea to petition for a day to honor fathers, and in particular, her own father, William Jackson Smart, who had raised her and her five siblings by himself, after her mother died in childbirth.

With support from the Spokane Ministerial Association and the YMCA, her efforts paid off, and on June 19, 1910, the first Father's Day was celebrated in Spokane. The rose was selected as the official Father's Day flower, and some suggest that people wear a white rose to honor a father who is deceased, and a red one for a father who is living. In 1972, Richard Nixon signed a presidential proclamation declaring the third Sunday of June as Father's Day.

I have three wonderful children - Nora, Conor and Clare. Their Mother and my Bride, Mary, is in Heaven. She watches the cartoon playing 24/7 which is my care for those three great kids. Homer Simpson looks like Lord Chesterfield next to my ministrations as Hickey Pater Familias.

Jesus! Rag, rag, rag and the occasional Rage. That's this weak Sister, Bubba.

I do what I can, or attempt to make myself believe that all that I do for them comes not from a misstep, a lazy half-measure, or out of my personal vanity.

They deserve a great Father. They have one in God the Father and a reasonable facsimile here on earth.

Fathers are important, I guess. There are commercials telling us about Father's Rights from lawyers in Cowboy Hats; Celebration Sales for Hardware, Steaks, Golf Shirts and Old Country Buffets.

A wonderful boss that I had back when I worked one of my many jobs to meet tuition at Loyola was Simon Bitzstein.

Si Blitzstein hired legions of Catholic Youth to sell Van Huesen Shirts, Levis, quality suits, sport coats, and accessories at Mr. Lee's in the Evergreen Plaza*. One Fathers Day while fitting a guy home from the Navy for a suit, Si was asked what he was doing for Father's Day. He said, "This. This is what Fathers do."

"Hickey, he said, "You know when's Mothers Day?"

I said, "Last month."

Si rejoined, "Nine Months after Fathers Day. You got children? You work."

That was no joke. Do your job.

Fathers, no matter how strong, weak, smart, flawed, best-intended, or exemplary, are committed to a contact made with the women that they love and the subsequent gift from God that this contact requested.

It's work. We Catholics celebrated Fathers Day long before the thoughtful Methodist Miss Strong, and the subsequent Presidents declared a fitting tribute.

Fulfill the contract.

My Dad, was a three Campaign Marine veteran of the Pacific who worked three jobs. When my Mom was sick, the Old Man cooked,cleaned, washed, dried and folded clothes in between those jobs. Never a word about it.

Si Blitzstein fitted a sailor for a new suit.

St. Joseph raised the Son of God.

That's Fathers.

I pray to be half- the men they are - Fathers.

* Click my post title for the impending demolition of this landmark shopping center.

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