He was a pigeon-toed lightweight boxer who had his nose opened up and the weight of the world on his shoulders by the time he was eleven.
I cannot sum up my dad in just a few paragraphs. We all knew him in different ways, at different times, and times certainly are different now.
What I can do, is share a few stories that I hope will cause you to reflect on your own.
When my sister Tina was saying her first words, Mummie pointed to a bird and said, "Look! Birdie!" My dad Said, "Joanne, I don't want her talking like some jagoff-- it's a robin."
On the outside, with two girls, some might think he would spoil us, shelter us. Instead, he raised us like guys.
When I started first grade he said, "Walk in like you own the joint."
When I was eleven, I stole raisins from the Open Pantry. When I got caught and told my dad he said, "You chicken shit raisin thief! If you're gonna to steal, steal something worth taking! A TV! Rob a house! And you're not even any good, YOU GOT CAUGHT!"
If he told us to hurry up or he was leaving-- he left. If things got tough he'd say, "What? Can't you handle it?"
So many quips embedded in my mind: Eat 'em for breakfast, All you got is your face. If you want it- go out and get it!
It was a lot to take in-- but it got through.
When the four of us sat down to dinner, Tina would pump Daddy for information about the shop and he would tell it like it was.
When we went out, he taught us how to treat people-- all the same.
He was so charming and as mad as Mummie could get- his one liners always made her laugh. Their love was our battleground and with it we learned to respect the twists of passion and tolerate the pitfalls of pride. And, where some couldn't take that ride, now that it's all said and done-- it was a great one.
In the end, he was a Grampa. All he ever wanted to be. He so cherished the time he spent with his own Papa- the one person who let him be a boy, yet taught him how to be a man.
Five grandsons: Michael T., Michael V., Alex, Joseph, Gerard. Two grandaughters: Julianna and Aidan. He treated you all different, but loved you all the same.
And in Grampa's own words: "Holy Hell Babe! I got all thoroughbreds!"