January 7, 2011

Papa and Me

My first bike, my first puppy and my first *new* bike

Yesterday I share memories about my mother in my blog "Mama and Me".. well be it known that I could not write a follow up about "Papa and Me."

As a child I always thought my Papa was pretty special just like I knew Mama was special.  As an adult, I've come to realize that lots of children think their Dads are special... but for me, my Papa really was!

He would do the most unexpected things.  Of course, my Mother might not agree with everything he did for his children - like the time he unexpectedly brought home a puppy or two.  I wasn't around the first time he brought one home but I was about ten or eleven the second time he brought one home.  He had popped into a local diner for lunch and ordered a hot dog.  The wait fellow at the counter brought him a tiny puppy in a coffee cup.  Well being the old softy that he was, Papa decided to take the puppy home.  Of course, Mama wasn't home at the time.  She was in a Brookline, Ma hospital where she'd had surgery.  So my sister who was about 18 at the time was home when Papa brought the little beagle-mix puppy home.  My sister was ten years older than me and she had left high school at 16 to go work in the mills.  Lots of people used to leave their education behind to go work in the mills.  As it would turn out, I was the first in my family to graduate from high school.

But back to the puppy.  Because my sister went to work from 1p.m. to 10p.m. in the Pacific Mills where Mama also worked, it was decided I would stay at my Mémère and Pépère's home that was just a stone's throw and that we could see from our own home.  My sister called over to me (yes, we lived that close) and told me to come to the house that there was a surprise waiting for me.  I ran over to see what it was and lo and behold this cute little black, tan and white cuddly little pup was put in my arms.  It was love at first hold!  We named the pup Queenie and she would be my little Queenie for as long as she lived.

Of course now the real problem would be getting Mama to agree to keeping this little pup.  As a child I always loved animals.  I would have dogs and cats follow me home and then ask Mama if we could keep them.  As all mothers should, she told me to take those animals back where I found them... gee, I was so sure she'd let me keep each one I brought home!

So how could we convince Mama that we should keep this cute little critter?  Well that evening when Papa went to visit Mama at the hospital, we brought Queenie with us.  I waited for a bit until the coast was clear and we brought the puppy into the hospital wrapped in my sweater.  I put her on Mama's hospital bed and she couldn't resist either.  Of course, had the nurses seen this puppy inside the hospital they would not have resisted kicking us out either but we got in and out unscathed ;o)

Anyhow these are the kinds of things Papa was prone to do.

I was pretty much the youngest child not only in my family but among most of the neighborhood children.  I used to bemoan the fact that all of these olders "kids" had two wheel bicycles while I had none.

My Papa worked part-time for Cooper's Express - Cooper's was a moving company.  One day while moving furniture to someone's home they had some items they wanted to dispose of.  One of those items Papa brought home.  I was not allowed to go to the basement of our tenement until he was done "whatever" he was doing with that item.

It turned out to be a small child's two wheel bicycle.  Nothing at all like the big two wheelers but boy it suited me just fine.  It was indeed an old bicycle and Papa had put it in the basement so he could paint it.  It was one of the best gifts he could have given me.

When I was twelve years old one afternoon after work he told me I was to go to the store with him.  We went to Roby Miers Bicycle Shop in Lawrence where I grew up.  He let me pick out a spanking  new bicycle of my choice.  I chose a beautiful red and white bike with white wall tires.  What a bike!

There are so many acts of kindness Dad did that I could write a book.

When I was about twenty-one I was at work when a Nor'easter hit.  Since I used to ride with another worker, I had no idea how I would walk home in all that snow when I got dropped off a block away.  I imagined I'd be soaking wet!  Well when I was dropped off, Papa was waiting at that spot with my boots so I could get home without getting wet.

This was the kind of father he was - always concerned for his family and always doing the unexpected that brought great pleasure and satisfaction.

All in all Papa loved his family a whole lot.  His own Mother passed away when he was only thirteen.  He once told me that his older brothers and sisters raised him.  He was born into a family of seventeen children, he being the third youngest.

I fondly remember how Saturday evening was date night for Papa and Mama.  They would get dressed up and go to the movies.  On the way they always passed L'Heureux Jewelers.  One Monday noon time he came home with two jewelery sets Mama had liked as they window shopped at the jewelery store on Saturday evening.  She chose one set and he returned the other.   He paid 50 cents a week to the jeweler until it was paid in full.  Mama gave me that set after I was married.  I cherish it to this day not only because it was hers but because Papa gave it to her.

So life was indeed interesting with my parents.  Whether times were good or bad they made things work.

As my Papa lay dying, I was by his bedside while the rest of the family had gone to lunch.  He told me he would always be with me and I know that both he and Mama are always and forever with me and all of our family.  He loved his two oldest grandchildren he lived to see.  He passed away at the age of 59 so never got to see his other grandchildren.
  Now his granddaughters and great grandsons are writing another chapter in our family history.

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Lucie's Legacy
Lucie LeBlanc Consentino
2011 - Updated 2016


Lisa Wallen Logsdon said...

What a sweet story and it brought to mind many of my own memories of my father. And Theo is quite the handsome little guy!

Lucie LeBlanc Consentino said...

Thank you Lisa!

Sometimes it is good to remember the good times, isn't it?



Lucinda Chandonait Boaen said...

Nice story. You are inspiring!

Lucie LeBlanc Consentino said...

Thank you Lucinda! Your comment is greatly appreciated.