ME ‘OL PA

I’m swelled with pride.

See, me ol’ Pa , it turns out, after a whole hard life of sticking to it has now had a chunk of bricks and mortar named after him. He didn’t need to pay for it, my old man, he never has had. No. My last name is going to be on that building because someone (Dad) worked so hard to save so many lives and make so many others more comfortable.

When I heard about this I was so proud.
I hope I don’t get emotional at the dedication ceremony.

It’s always been the case that if I mention my last name around someone who works in the same field as he does, I get treated with a sort of nervous respect which I can hardly claim is my due. I’m used to people having a deep, almost fearful respect for my dad.

But I’ve never been this proud.
I need not to draw attention to myself in any way.

And now, anyone who uses, or passes by, or reads about this new building will know this name of ours. Do I prepare for the possibility that , out of the blue, someone might genuflect or give me snap-snap service upon hearing my last name? I couldn’t stand the guilt. We share a name, my dad and me, but the building and the recognition and respect are all his .I have yet to do anything that commands that kind of attention. And still, with all my life-skill deficits, I know my father respects me.

So I need to be respectful and not lose control at the dedication.

When one of my siblings won every academic award the university could offer save one, my mother gently collapsed into her seat and began weeping as the rest of the auditorium gave my sibling a seemingly endless standing ovation. I couldn’t understand this display by my mother. I would have thought she would be the last one standing and clapping .Turns out she was just over-taken with pride.

My God! Will I start crying at this ceremony?
No. I’ll steady myself, stoically rise and politely clap – the way good sons do.

My mom has had a somewhat shitty life. That day something exceptional happened and so she reacted in an exceptional way. She was bowled over that something this wonderfull happened to one of her pride-and-joys.

I recall her telling the story of being received with open hostility when she tried to share her pride with some of the ladies. “Pride is a selfish thing”, she was told – one of the ‘ seven deadly’s ‘ even. Good, waspy ladies of her ilk just shouldn’t be wallowing in it and certainly not be sharing it with others. What right had she to take credit for someone else’s accomplishments anyway?

The silly old bats had missed the boat completely. My mother had known some pretty intense pain in her life and now, in stunning contrast, she was joyful because someone she loved was joyful, rewarded. She is an avidly un-selfish woman and so is her pride She just felt obligated to tell people as a sort proof of her dedication my sibling.

Maybe I’ll stand tall and clap my hands off at the dedication ceremony – to hell with stoicism.

But If my mother and I melt into a puddle of tears, me ‘ol Pa will know we’ re not being showy or dramatic or selfish. He will know it’s all just a little joy over someone we love being so highly, and deservedly, celebrated.

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