Remembering My Dad

Robert Edward Abare

Today is Father’s Day and I want to honor my father Robert Edward Abare. I love the picture of my dad in his Marine uniform. I call it his “stud muffin” picture.  I never knew him when he looked like that. The Dad I knew had already suffered polio, was partially paralyzed on one side of his body, had a tracheotomy scar which he called a “war wound,” had lost most of his hair and drank a few too many screwdrivers.

Robert Edward Abare (left)
L.S. Starrett Co.

The Dad I remember made sure we, all nine kids, were sheltered and fed. He worked his entire career for the L.S Starrett company, a precision tool manufacturer since 1880, based in my Dad’s home town of Athol, Massachussets. Dad never graduated from high school, but he was an arm chair philosopher. As I reflect and honor my Dad today, this is the one of the biggest gifts he ever gave me.  My dad always had time to sip a cup of “joe” with me, to tell jokes or stories (often whoppers), and to indulge me in conversations or debates about the true color of the clouds and the sky. For years I tried to learn more about his military service, his polio days but he always stayed in the present.  Only now, I realize what a gift staying in the present is.  Then I felt like my dad was withholding, hiding his true self. Funny, he was there all along.  Dad had this uncanny ability to change the questions and the conversation in such a way that I was forced to examine myself-not others.

At the kitchen table with Dad

Today I am grateful for my Dad sitting at the table with a cup of “joe” or a vodka and orange screwdriver.  Once I gave my Dad a rock with these Satchel Paige words, “Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.” I wonder where the rock is today.  I will sits and thinks, and just sits today to honor him.  Though my Dad was not the type to push his faith on anyone, he often told me to “keep the faith.”  Khaled Bentounès, a Sufi Master, said, “Despite the materialism of our modern century and the infernal noise of its mechanical, industrial, nuclear and military power, there still exist a few representatives of that superior type of humanity who in silence inquire, meditate and pray.”  My mother showed me how to belong to a community of faith.  My father showed me, without words, how to sit in silence, inquire, meditate and pray.  Today I pray that both of my deceased parents can feel my delayed and overflowing gratitude.