Joe Scalia, twice divorced, is the father of four grown children and grandfather of five grandchildren. Born and raised in Borough Park, Brooklyn, he lives in Farmingdale, Long Island, where he taught English and Creative Writing for 33 years to reluctant junior and senior high school students. He has published five books: the novels Freaks and Pearl and three short story collections, No Strings Attached, Brooklyn Family Scenes and Scalia vs. The Universe or My Life and Hard Times.
Dear Janine, Ian, Jesse and Mikki,
That fall I went on to high school, and my father returned to giving haircuts and counting his loose change. We never talked about what happened. My father and I never talked about much of anything.
A lot of years have passed since then, more than I care to count. And though my father is long gone, I sometimes see his soft hands while I do crossword puzzles in the newspaper, or just folded in front of me when I watch TV. Sometimes, if I tilt my head just right, staring back at me from my shaving mirror I catch a glimpse of him about the eyes.
Today, after all my years as your father, I see my own father differently, just as I know you see me differently, too. Oh, yes, early on, I noticed how you looked at me whenever I failed to measure up as a father because of my foolishness and shortcomings – those embarrassed, disapproving looks you gave me. But now you cut me a little slack. Funny how time and growth bring a certain clarity.
It’s only natural for children to judge their parents and be disappointed, at least until we grow up enough to see our parents as they really are. We are all of us imperfect. And if we’re lucky, we come to understand that what we once thought was their weakness was really their strength.
I love you.