Monday, January 11, 2016

Remembering Dad #6: Thoughtfulness

Dad was a thoughtful person. He considered the needs of others and often took action. Some may remember a time when men used to open doors for ladies. Dad did this always. I especially remember that he opened the door for me when getting in or out of the car. He did that for others as well. I don't think he ever expressed annoyance about that. Maybe it's not politically correct, but I'd love it if that tradition were revived.

When it snowed in the winter, Dad would, of course, shovel the sidewalk in front of our house. But, he would also shovel the sidewalk for neighbors, especially the elderly neighbors who would have trouble doing it themselves. He didn't ask, he just did it. Then they were surprised and so grateful.

For his parents, my Gramma and Grampa Keller, he put up storm windows in the winter and screens in the summer. He did that for Aunt Lois sometimes, too, after Uncle John died. And I would not be surprised if he did it for others in need.

Dad worked in Sauganash, an upscale Chicago neighborhood, at Queen of All Saints Parish. There, among other things, he drove the school bus. Doing so, he became familiar with the neighborhoods of both Sauganash and Lincolnwood, in which the children lived. At Christmastime Dad drove John, Joan and me after dark to see all the beautiful homes and the Christmas decorations and lights that studded block after block of homes. It was so exciting!

Dad also invited the Springfield Dominican Sisters, who taught at St. Edward, our parish, to go with him for a tour. That was very enjoyable for them as most of them didn't drive in those times. Once there was room for me on one of those trips. I was speechless, but I enjoyed it. Again, I would not be surprised that he escorted many others to enjoy the Christmas lights.

Whenever I was away from home for extended periods, for example, when I went to boarding high school in Springfield, Illinois, Dad would write me letters weekly. Yes! Weekly! He wrote two or more pages that kept me up to date on my brother, sister, aunts, uncles, and cousins. He talked about the common everyday doings of life. The other students were in awe, because their Dads rarely wrote. They usually received letters from their mothers. There was no email then, and long distance telephone calls were prohibitively pricey. Thus, the letters. And, I might add, that I wrote home to both of my parents every week. Yes! Every week!

Dad also never forgot special occasions, like birthdays, even when I was away. I could count on getting a box of Fannie Mae candy.

Once, when I was just out of college, I worked in a very depressed area on the West Side of Chicago at a poor Catholic School. Dad, concerned about my safety, would drive me to work and home again. I would tell him of my experiences. Once, I mentioned how cold the children's bathroom was because of broken windows that no one repaired. Dad came inside with me once to take a look. He said he could patch the broken window panes with cardboard to cut down on the cold. For some reason the school principal wouldn't allow it. I think she was embarrassed.

When Dad died in 1979 many people who I did not even know stopped to tell me all the kind things my Dad did for them. He did all these things without fanfare. He was self-effacing.

Note: The above photo was taken in 1958. It shows my father with my sister Joan at my Keller grandparents' house.

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