Blondie’s Dagwood and O Sole Mio


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My father.  The comic strip Blondie {Dagwood Bumstead and Mr. Dithers} and O Sole Mio {the song} were favorites of my father.  This week marks the sixth anniversary of his passing.  His death.  Beyond me why it bothers me so much.  Maybe I need to talk about it.

His name was Wallace, but he went by his middle name, Sterling.  He was born in Norwood, MA.  He grew up in Somerville.  He was sick a lot.  He graduated from Somerville English High.  {He had very good grammar.  Both of my parents did.}  He worked in a meat market in Faneuil Hall and at Brigham’s Ice Cream shop in Boston.  He attended Franklin Technical Institute, but didn’t get a degree.  He served in the Army in Korea.  He had two younger brothers.  He was his mother’s favorite.

my fourth birthday

my fourth birthday

When I was about eight my father started drinking.  He was a closet drinker.  I never saw him drink.  I only saw his liquor once.  I only saw him drunk once.  His father died drunk.  Fell off the porch in January and died.  My father outlived all odds of alcohol killing him.  He went through rehab after rehab, and always went back to the liquor.

I didn’t see him for the last fifteen years of his life.  I was raising four children alone.  I was not able to give him whatever he thought he needed.  He was not able to give me what I thought we needed.  My children do not remember him.

My father did not encourage me in my college endeavor.  I wanted to be a teacher and he thought I should go into business.  He did not like that I chose to go to a Christian college.  He did not have faith in God.  He said, “I tried it, and it didn’t work.”  He did not help me financially.  My parents were divorced when I was a freshman in college.  Neither remarried.

Scan 67 - Version 2

Age 9 at Fort George in Toronto, Ontario

I have a few fond memories.  Few.  He sent me lovely postcards the year he worked in NH and we were in MA.  He came home on weekends.  I loved the postcards.  And he read to me when I was sick.  But I think I always blamed him for whatever was wrong, because of his drinking.  I wonder if he knew that.  I kept things to myself.

In July of 2007 both of my parents, in different states, fell and hit their head.  My father went into a coma, was erroneously put on life support, and never woke up.  My mother went into a nursing home, where she still is.  When my father died no one knew how to find me.  His cousin found me the day (or two) before the funeral.  I went by myself.  His two cousins, one wife, one daughter, and my father’s youngest brother were there.

The ‘service’ was at the National Cemetery.  They gave me the flag.  The minister did not share with us how we could be certain of going to heaven.  We were there maybe an hour and then went our separate ways.  I did a little bit of sightseeing on my way back to Boston for my flight home.  I was glad I went.

This summer I went back to visit the grave and take a photograph.  I chose the inscription.  I determined that if at no other time than his death my father would give glory to God, so be it.  People who look on his stone will read the gospel.  How sad that he did not believe himself.

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Words of sadness do not bring peace.  God gives peace when I cast my care upon Him.  He is my Father.  He is not a disappointment to me.  He never fails.  He is God.

He is God.  He never fails.  And He never oversteps our free will.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.                    John 3:16

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8 thoughts on “Blondie’s Dagwood and O Sole Mio

  1. Cindy says:

    Joyce, there was so much about your father I never knew, like what he did for a living (I loved Brigham’s Ice Cream shop, never knew he worked there.) Susan and I recently talked about the three of you visiting us while camping (Vermont?) and the fond memories of him playing with us in the lake. Sometimes it’s good that we can hold onto our positive childhood memories while the not so positive escape us.

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  2. Cindy says:

    Oh good! What did I win? Lol. I’ve been thinking about the family a lot too. This time of year brings about many anniversaries of births, deaths and marriages.

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  3. Deb says:

    I’m just reading this post AFTER reading the most recent post on the 100th commenter. i enjoyed reading about the memories you have of your father even though his life seemed a mess. Putting the gospel on his stone was a great idea…you never know how the Lord will use His Word.

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