Sunday, February 20, 2005

Tribute to My Dad

mandziak, originally uploaded by e14studio.

Ten years ago on the Sunday before President's Day, I had my last conversation with my Dad. By sunrise on Monday, February 20, 1995, I got the call that he died. My father's name is Chet Mandziak. He was the son of Polish immigrants, Andrew & Josephine. His brother John died while in the army serving in Shreveport, Louisiana. The circumstances of John's death are still vague but back then no one ever asked any questions. Dad joined the Navy so Josephine wouldn't see another son in an army uniform. Dad was a communications specialist on the USS Teton. After the navy, Dad and Mom settled down living in the same house that Dad grew up in. I was only four when Josephine died, but I remember her quite well. Mom says I "take after her". I consider that a compliment. Dad had a sister, Martha, who lived next door to us. There was also Uncle"Iggy" (Ignatius) but we didn't visit him much because no one liked his first wife. Dad stayed close to Iggy and Martha, who actually outlived him. On the day of Dad's funeral, the procession of cars (I counted over 40) drove by our family house on the way to the cemetery. Now when I go to the cemetery I leave rocks and feathers on his gravestone that I've collected from my travels. Today I wrote him a letter, lit a sage stick and burned the letter and let it float away in the lake. My Dad was one in a million. I miss him so much but there are no regrets. He knew I loved him and he knew I was happy. All I can hope for is that one day we can all meet up again.


Loretta said...

Sharon, what a beautiful tribute to your Dad. The photo alone is priceless. I loved the imagery of the letter burning with a sage stick and floating off over the lake. I'm sure your Dad received that letter and is floating one down to you.

sister joan said...

I love you,sis!