We had an idea… since mid-June has Father’s Day, Jean & Alison wanted to share about the men in their lives.
As a child, we lived on the eleventh floor in an apartment building in the Bronx. Eleven stories is really high… it’s something like 110 feet. I used to get that funny feeling up the back of my legs when I would lean out and look down at the small, ant-like kids running around the playground far below. It kind of made me a little sick, you know?
And every single month, my dad would climb out those eleven story apartment windows. He would sit on the window ledge with his whole back outside in the Bronx wind, holding on by his lower legs inside the apartment so he could wash the windows. My mom would be screaming at him to get in… so he would inevitably close the window down to the top of his thighs. And he would sit there, peaceful, in the clouds – wiping away – cleaning off all the grime and dirt and soot.
As a four year old that was a very impressive feat. It was like he was some sort of weird superhero whose power was to sit on a ledge unafraid.
My dad also won a Pulitzer Prize in journalism and and was Deputy Police commissioner of New York City and worked in the CBS newsroom with Walter Cronkite (I hear lots of millennials googling right about now). He did really great stuff… but that window sitting was so viscerally intense it almost beat out those other achievements. It was scary and exhilarating and liberating and it was… my dad.
“I’ll cook us something” my yet-to-be-husband said when we met.
Ok. Look, full disclosure – I am not a cook. People say “Oh, but you’re Italian.” “You love to eat.” Both true… but, honestly, all I can do is boil and heat. I cannot cook. So when this man said he would cook something, two things crossed my mind – How bad could it be and was there ANYTHING in the fridge?
I think the refrigerator held some soy sauce, eggs, old OJ, almond butter, two wrinkly limes and croutons. About an hour later, he stepped out of my tiny NYC apartment kitchen with the most delicious meal I had ever tasted… I think he brought out something like a full turkey dinner – How did he do it? He was so relaxed and unimpressed with himself as we sat on small black stools in this dingy basement apartment with two tiny candles between us. It was incredible and surprising and comforting and it is… my husband.
At 4 years old, my son could not walk 10 feet without karate chopping or jumping or shooting imaginary ray guns. At dinner, when we would give thanks for love and nature, he would send up gratitude for Star Wars clone troopers and his posse. He was a BOY – in all its wild, untamed, energized glory.
At a show-and-tell in first grade, he brought a Billy Blazes action figure. He was so excited to show it to everyone. When he came out of school that day he ran right up to me crying. I hugged him. “Ruby’s snow globe broke!”, he sputtered. “She showed the class and it slipped. It meant so much to her and now it’s broken.”
I tried to console him out of sadness at his friend’s loss. I explained that the meaning is not in the “thing”, that Ruby still had her memories. It seemed to cheer him up a bit. Until he got to the car. He leaned against the bumper, his fingers fiddling with his show-and-tell action figure. “Mom. I know you’re right. But it’s still really sad. Maybe I should give her Billy Blazes.”
I smiled at this little man and admired his generosity – It was sweet and open and kind and it is… my son.
All shapes and sizes.
Some all heart, some all brawn, many both…
complicated, easy-going, troubled, loving.
Happy Father’s Day.
Alison Martin -- wife, mom, Emmy-award winning actress, writer, chocoholic. Bronx Italian, daughter of Pultizer Prize winning reporters, who also identifies as L.A. Irish. Shout outs: Dan, Emilia, Brady, pooches - LuLu & Ted, friends, Mother Earth, serendipity, peace, VIPHS, Boldfaced Secret, living life like your socks feel real good.
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