Monday, November 14, 2005


Today is my step-father's 84th birthday. He has done so much and been so intricately weaved into every part of my life, that I thought I'd make a little list of all the things that remind me of who he is and why I love him. 84 things to be exact.

1. He is fiercely loyal and protective.

2. He has taken care of me, my brother and my mother for over 25 years.

3. He taught me how to water-ski.

4. He gave me my first job, in his restaurant.

5. He taught me how to food shop "frugally" by comparing prices, amount of contents and brands.

6. He is generous and always gives to whoever needs it most.

7. He took us to our first Broadway play - Annie.

8. He also took us to Vegas for the first time, taking us to shows that included Gallagher and Robert Goulet. Who needed to know about Robert Goulet at such a young age??

9. He took us on a plane for the first time.

10. He taught us the words to the
Three Little Fishies and Mairzy Dotes songs. Two songs I recently taught to my best friend's four year old.

11. He took us out West for the first time, proving that it was no longer wild and it was also no longer crawling with Apaches.

12. He took my advice on business matters...when I was 13 years old!

13. He included my family in everything he did, from family reunions to outings at the lake.

14. When we would come home from the restaurant, after a busy night, he would let my brother and I "help" sort the money for the Monday deposit, which meant putting the bills all in the same direction and taking the little dog ears off the corners. We'd have stacks of cash on the kitchen table in the middle of the night! Counting, of course.

15. He taught me how to do laundry on an old fashioned wringer washing machine. We would wash aprons and rags and HUNDREDS of napkins and tablecloths for the restaurant and then we'd hang them all on the clothesline! Sometimes in the dark.

16. He would take us to the movies in South Fallsburg, at this little old movie theatre that was probably the biggest deal in town back in the heyday of the Catskill Mountains.

17. He has yet to kill my mother. Which only proves he is a man capable of great patience, understanding and love.

18. His passionate love of oatmeal raisin cookies.

19. His insistence on making a card for his birthday, not paying the "God Damn $2.95 for a card??" price.

20. His support in everything I've ever done...even when it was clearly not a good career move.

21. Making the rounds at the garage sales and being excited to have bought a recliner for a dollar and then finding seventy five cents in the cushions, making it probably the best bargain of his adult life.

22. His neverending energy, even though he was often 20-40 years older than those around him. We'd beg him to slow down while sightseeing and give us a chance to catch our breath.

23. The fact that he actually went sightseeing.

24. His pet names for me, everything from Baby to Lasena. No, I'm not a black girl. It's just the letters of my name mixed up a little!

25. Always lending me money and never bringing up that I still owe him.

26. Taking my brother and I to the wholesale candy store and letting us pick out a case of whatever we wanted.

27. Taking my mother and I to his brother's jewelry store and letting us pick out whatever we wanted.

28. His Kangol.

29. Letting me drive before I had a license. And not telling my mother.

30. Taking us to Action Park in New Jersey every summer and going on all the rides with us. Even the log flume, huge six lane slides and the Tarzan rope swing that landed you in waters icy enough to be arctic!

31. Helping me pack my house in NY into a U-Haul and then sharing the 2,500 mile drive with me. By sharing, I mean him doing most of the driving, of course.

32. It could be 400 degrees out but you'd never catch him in a pair of shorts.

33. Oreo's might as well be filled with sand, as he always dismantles them and discards the innards in favor of the cookie.

34. Three day old bread? Not a problem here. If its hard enough to dunk into coffee, Frank is all over it.

35. Need a plane ticket but short on cash? Frank to the rescue!

36. The old adage, "His bark is worse than his bite." fits Frank to a tee. Shhh...don't tell him that we know about the marshmallow heart - it would ruin the fun he has making everyone think he's a curmudgeon.

37. He could go from waterskiing at the lake in a two piece wetsuit to "working" the dining room in a three piece business suit and by looking at him in either outfit, you'd never know the other side of him existed.

38. He could add up the cost of your entire grocery cart, the guest checks from a busy night at the D.I.S.H. (our restaurant) or balance your checkbook all in his head and have the correct answer.

39. He's the master of shopping at midnight to avoid the seasonal summer crowd and be able to stock up on Shop-RIte Chocolate Ice Cream. The BEST!

40. Ask him to name every state and it's capital and he will do it in record time and in alphabetical order.

41. The only time you don't know Frank is in the house is when he's eating. Taught from childhood not to talk while eating, he devours most of his meals in complete silence, save a little lip smacking.

42. He will use half a Splenda packet, saving the other half for later.

43. He never misses a sale. We have enough food to stock a bunker should we become involved in World War III.

44. If you need pasta or toilet paper, you know where to go.

45. If you're lucky, you'll also get a Kit-Kat, which he is always armed with since he now has three Grandsons that always sneak a peek to see what Papa is packin'.

46. Frank could easily be smothered in his sleep since the pillow is always covering his head to block out light and sound.

47. His sneeze could blow the windows out of a house. They are forceful, bold and loud.

48. He always wears shirts with a pocket on the chest. He is a closet geek and needs it for his pen collection.

49. He has a Playboy magazine collection dating back to the 60's that would make Hugh Hefner proud. Who remembers Barbie Benton?

50. His friends had names like Louie, Carmine, Nicky, Tony and Frankie Bananas. Scared yet?

51. He once personally escorted Ingrid Bergman during World War II when his platoon was responsible for her safety.

52. Thanks to him, I know all the words to Frank Sinatra's French Foreign Legion as the 8 Track tapes were on a continuous loop in the restaurant dining room, creating "mood" music for our customers.

53. He taught me how to quickly peel 500 lbs. of potatoes to get ready for a busy Saturday night. My hands would sometimes stay in the "peeler" position for days after that.

54. The restaurant burned down twice and was rebuilt both times with the help of family and friends. Both times, he had no insurance!

55. He will eat anything put in front of him and most likely, tell you it was good.

56. He has been known to utter "Who gives someone a fucking fish for their birthday? Who?" or "Who the fuck puts ketchup on steak??" and his trademark, "Jesus Fucking Christ!"

57. His favorite word very well may be fuck.

58. He talks and often yells at the TV regularly.

59. He still smells faintly of filet mignon, onions and potatoes. Just like the old restaurant days.

60. He taught me to shower in 3.7 minutes, using my washcloth as a preliminary towel and how to soap up, rinse off, soap up, rinse off all in an effort to save water. Don't tell him I don't do this anymore.

61. He served our country in World War II as a young man with a passionate desire to protect his country and perform the duties he was called to do. At any price. OK, so the French girls made it a little more bearable.

62. He is the oldest of five boys and one of the only two left surviving.

63. He once made it from New York to Arizona in 34 hours.

64. He loves to play craps. In Vegas, we get "signing privileges" because he is the master of the dice.

65. He can give Fred Astaire a run for his money. To this day.

66. Soda, Juice and Milk were always a little too strong for Frank, so he would cut them with water. He used to try to trick us into drinking it the same way.

67. And I think he succeeded at tricking us. He used to make a concoction called "Bug Juice", which was really watered down Kool-Aid, but we never had a clue!

68. He taught me never to cut lettuce because it turns it brown. Always break it.

69. He taught me to always do the right thing, no matter what.

70. He has liked every boyfriend I've ever had, with the exception of Jorge. Gee, I wonder why?

71. He watches TV so loud, you can hear it outside the house.

72. He survived a quadruple bypass surgery and refused to be told he wouldn't walk out of that hospital. He walked out.

73. He ran interference with every guy I've ever liked at our restaurant. It took me a while to figure out why the guys would scatter when Frank came around. Little did they know there was a bounty on their heads.

74. He pointed out the first Hasidic Jew I'd ever seen, sparking my interest in their culture and people. Where do all those strings come from??

75. I don't believe he has ever come to a full stop. Half the time I'm not sure if he even looked when he rolls through a stop sign.

76. My nephews, his Grandchildren, can bring tears to his eyes because he can't believe he could ever love that much.

77. For telling me I was beautiful, that I had great legs and that no man is good enough for me.

78. He told me that someone may get me the job, but it was my responsibility to keep the job.

79. He is excellent at keeping a confidence. He is one you can really trust to take your secret to the grave.

80. As much as he bitches and says he doesn't, he really does like cats.

81. He has made it habit for me to flick off the lights whenever I leave a room, yet he always catches me the one time I don't do it!

82. He is the king of crossword puzzles and American History. If you need a word or a historical reference, he's the man.

83. He loves tea with honey. But it must be in a mug the size of a small child's head.

84. And last but not least, I love Frank because he loves me. Our soft spot for each other will never change. He is my father in so many ways and I have always been proud to be called his daughter.

Happy Birthday Franchi!


Anonymous said...

What a GREAT list. And Action Park in NJ? I loved it!!
And the LOUD TV, that's how I always knew I was at the right house, when I woudl visit.

Anonymous said...

That is the Franchi I remember. When my oldest son was born the day before his birthday he showed up and showered us with gifts. Bread, pasta, and tomato sauce. Happy Birthday Franchi!
Thanks for the memories

CozyMama said...

lovely post.

Anonymous said...

I love him and I don't even know him! Robert Goulet ROCKS!

lime said...

what a wonderful post and loving tribute. happy birthday, frank!

MamaKBear said...

Excellent tribute post!

Happy Birthday to him!

Manblogger641 said...

Beautiful post. Great man. Happy Birthday to you and thank you so much.