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The Last Joke’s On Me

Chair on empty theatre stageI suppose even the most perfect of fathers have their faults. When I was a child, I couldn’t get enough of the TV show “Leave It To Beaver”. Not having a father, I hoped there were profound words of wisdom I could glean from Ward Cleaver. They were, in my young child’s eyes, the perfect family.

My farce of a father is the product of his upbringing in Vaudeville with show business parents; a free-spirited gypsy. In his youth, all he knew was being on stage and charming the women. He was a handsome fellow. There was a time I resented him, even hated him, but that has since changed to pity. He didn’t know how to be a proper father as he had no one to emulate.

Leave it to BeaverI can recall no sage words of wisdom he imparted to me like Ward Cleaver did to the Beaver and Wally. He was the king of the one liner jokes, cracking one every chance he got. His favorite- A man goes to a psychiatrist. The doctor says, “You’re crazy.” The man says, “I want a second opinion!” The doctor says, “Okay, you’re ugly too!” I would hear that one at least once during every visit with him. I admit, there were not a lot of visits, but that old Henny Youngman joke stands out in my mind. Or, when he would come to pick me up, he would say, “Hi, it’s good to see me.” Confusing to a child to say the least.

When I was 19, he changed his entire name from William Clark Polley to Anthony Joseph Pollizzio. When I asked him why, he said, “We’re Italian, that was my grandfather’s name.”

If you’ve read my previous posts, Waiting on DNA, and Final Answer: Not Italian, you know that’s about as far from the truth as you can get.

A BIG LIE. I based two-thirds of my life on a lie told to me by my dad. Now, I am faced with the task of researching this name change, and why it occurred.
Did he wake up one morning and say, “Hey I think I’ll be Italian from now on?” Or, did he cross the wrong people and as a result had to take on a new identity? Given my dad, either is possible.

I do recall at the same time this revelation of his name change occurred, he quit drinking. Did he decide to change his name because he wanted everyone to view him as a whole new man? A reborn man who didn’t drink? Who was Italian?

I can’t ask him. At 91, the nurses tell me he is like a baby now. He doesn’t speak, eats little and sleeps a lot.

Left to my own imagination about why, his last joke is on me as I have a mystery that I may never find the answer to. This may be one he’ll take to his grave.

I am not as upset as I thought I would be that I am not Italian. I am content with the person I am, regardless of my heritage. I can still make a hell of a pot of good gravy and hearty meatballs.

In part, I have my dad to thank for who I am today. All our experiences in life, good and bad, mold us into who we are. Dad helped to show me what not to be, and gave me a delightful sense of humor.

So dad, if you can hear me at all during your blissful hours of slumber, I thank you for making me into the person I am today.

I hope I’ve made you proud.

Farce

6 thoughts on “The Last Joke’s On Me

  1. You do a great job of telling this story and keeping the reader hooked. After reading, I have hope that my own children will realize what not to be. Their father is now showing up once every three months for a visit. In his mind, he is a good father. In my mind, farce is an accurate descriptor. Thank you!

    Like

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