Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Picture This

Time it was, and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence, a time of confidences
Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories, they're all that's left you
        -Bookends Simon and Garfunkel

Yesterday, I received a letter from the parish where my late father’s funeral was held.  They celebrate a mass for all who have died in the past year.  As a tribute and as identification, they request a picture from the family to form a collage.  In fine Roman Catholic Church tradition, the obligatory donation is also requested.

I have many pictures of my father.  One even dates back to 1928, the year of his birth.  My grandmother is standing holding him as an infant with an old Jersey City tenement in the background.  My grandmother is wearing a short bob and laced up shoes as was stylish in the 1920’s. Her blue eyes beaming brightly as a lighter contrast in the black and white picture.

I have tons of other photos that chronicle his life.  A communion photo, rooftop photos,  a baseball photo, yearbook photos and his wedding photo.  There are progressive ones with just my sister as an infant, then me, then my brother. More recent ones are with his successive grandchildren, first with my sister's  boys then my girls. One showing him carving pumpkins with my girls some years ago is one of my favorites. The last photo taken was in the assisted living facility.  It is the saddest of all as it documents in full technicolor his sad decline.

But the one I chose was the most classic one of all.  It is from 1953.  It is a photo of him with a cigarette girl at the Latin Club in Manhattan at his bachelor party.  I have posted it on Facebook in the past.  It has become one of my favorites. In it, he is young, randy, impeccably dressed,  irreverent, so full of life, invincible against his smoking habit, and beaming at the very attractive cigarette girl.

Nice, Dad.

The Church didn’t much care for my irreverent joke at his mass.  I thought the old priest would have a stroke when I announced not the perfunctory “Readings from the Gospel of so and so.”  Instead I announced a  “Reading from the Book of George Carlin,” and waited for the laugh that didn't come.  Let's put it this way, good comedians know their audience.  I am clearly not a good comedian.  Despite my age, I was scolded by my aunt and frowned upon by many cousins.  

On some more shit lists yet again.

But my father would have gotten the joke.  I would have initially gotten a fist-pounding “Jesus Christ!” out of him but then a hysterical laugh. I can see him smirking as he shook his head, proud that his often irreverent style was not lost on the succeeding generation.

 I think he would get the joke of this picture too.

I sent it in this morning.

Miss you Dad.