Our Dad was a peace loving man. He was like Gandhi in his temperament. And he always tried his best to keep things calm on the home front, especially at the holidays. He protected Abby and I from the attacks by Mary (who could behave and rampage like Genghis Khan) and he later protected us from Beatrice (who often acted much like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas).
I still marvel at and wonder about where he got his incredible internal strength. Maybe it was his upbringing, or his years in the military, or his later years as an attorney.
During his childhood, he worked very hard for everything he had and dealt with – and stopped – an abusive stepfather from hurting his mother and the rest of the family.
During his military service, he saw the horrors of war up close and personally. We know that he was among the first troops to go into a liberated Nazi concentration camp, but we can only imagine what he experienced, as it was one of the few things in his past he never spoke about in any detail.
During his time as an attorney, he handled many criminal defense cases, providing the best service to every person and to our society that he could. He finally switched from criminal defense to civil cases after receiving one too many death threats from a client who was displeased with the outcome of their case.
These experiences and more bring us back to the war at home. Genghis Khan (Mary) would flip out and Dad would remind her that he did not come home to fight. He had had enough fighting in the courtrooms each day working on various criminal case. Conflict may have been Mother’s middle name, but not ours.
In later years, The Grinch (Beatrice) would be in one of her moods and after being reminded by Dad that fighting was for the courtroom, she would go into isolation after loudly slamming the bedroom door. This “coping mechanism” of hers actually worked for the rest of us because she was not able to ruin any more of the evening.
Dad believed that it was up to him to remind all four of us kids, Abby, Sissy, Kevin and I, that home was where they love you. Even if Mary and Beatrice – aka the twisted sisters, who had hearts too small and freaked out at a moment’s notice – didn’t know the true meaning of Christmas and family, Dad made sure that we did.