June 20, 2021- My Dad will have been gone 37 years, this Tuesday. His smiling countenance beams down at me from two locations, in the living room: One with my Mom, when they were in their early forties; the other, in his early fifties sitting in his office at the General Electric Riverworks plant, in Lynn,
Ferdinand Joseph Boivin had the gift of gab, loved to make the rounds and visit others, and was always holding court on the front porch, before dinner-with various men showing up to discuss what was troubling them, and either my brother Dave or I dispatched to grab some beer for Dad and the visitor. He always had a corny joke or two at the ready, would sing little love songs to our mother and would hold her close, in the kitchen, when he first came home from work-or from anywhere where he had gone on an errand. They’d kiss, as if no one else was around, while perfectly mindful that one or more of us was close by. The most important thing was that we knew how secure our home was-even in lean times, which came often.
Dad worked graveyard shifts, when I was very small, so our bonding was somewhat interrupted-and we both had to make a conscious effort at remaining close. He never took sides, in our sibling squabbles, but his watchwords were “Now lookit! Yiz need to look at each other from the other’s perspective.” His silent look of disapproval could speak volumes. He only had one hard-and-fast rule for us: “Never refer to me as your Old Man.” I know I disappointed him, by not going into the business field, but there was always my resentment of Riverworks’ management, for how he was treated-cast into a middle management role, seldom given credit and often receiving blame, if others caused missteps. “Freddy” was a trade school graduate, and a creature of habit, who did not particularly get along, at least at first, with fresh-out-of-university MBAs and Engineers, who were elbowing their way to the top. A man about ten years my senior, Peter St. Clair, befriended Dad and served as a bridge figure between him and the new up-and -comers. I hold Pete in the highest regard, for everything he did to help my father.
Dad slowed down, in his last four or five years, cutting back on his smoking, whilst enjoying a round or two of Scotch every evening. He and Mom flew out to San Diego, when Penny and I were married, in 1982. They loved their visit to southern California, taking several days after the nuptials to enjoy San Diego and Orange County-even going up to Knotts Berry Farm-as close as they got to Los Angeles. They stopped in Denver, on the way back and checked out the U.S. Mint there. A few years later (1985), they visited us in Arizona, being awestruck by the Grand Canyon, Sedona, and the vastness of the Navajo Nation-as well as being charmed by the Dineh and Hopi people. A year later, Dad made his flight to his Lord. Mom would return to the West, with her younger brother and sister-in-law, in 1990, to make the one trip that she and Dad had wanted, but never got to do together: Yellowstone, San Francisco and southeast Alaska.
The years since have seen me do my level best to raise a son into manhood. The times I struggled, or stumbled, were always covered well by Aram’s maternal grandfather and by Dave-sometimes in their visits or sometimes over the phone. Father-in-law Norm told me, though, “If I didn’t think you were doing well by Aram, overall, I’d have taken him from you.” That gave me a lot of confidence, going forward.
Being a father, these days, is a matter of checking in with Aram and Yunhee, now and then-just to see how things are going-or to offer counsel, when they are in a quandary about some curveball that life has served. This will long continue, into the years when starting a family, buying a house and/or making career moves present themselves. What I mainly need to do now, for them and for the rest of my family, is maintain self-care and be healthy, for whatever arises.
God knows, I had the full measure of a role model.