My Fathers’ Day Present 2014

026It’s Fathers’ Day weekend and on Saturday I drove down to New Jersey to drop my son off at camp. Brendan is nineteen and was a camper up in Maine just a decade ago. Now he will be a camp counselor, I am proud to say, at a camp for the developmentally disabled.

He’s a December kid and we had the opportunity through AIFS to send him to a gap year at the University of Salamanca in Spain last year.  I flew him over for the Camp Directors’ Fair in London to help out and get an idea of what the old man does for a living  Of course he fell into the social events and was swept into one of our client camp’s reunion evenings.  Now he’s on staff starting tomorrow.

The fact that Brendan chose to work at a camp for the developmentally disabled is of special significance for our family. When I was young, my dad’s brother Bernie would visit the house from time to time.  My father warned me when he was coming, especially if my friends were visiting the house. I always wondered why it mattered if my friends met Uncle Bernie. It was natural for me that he had no teeth, thumbed through Readers’ Digest upside down, and needed me to translate for him as only his close family could.  My dad would amuse him for hours talking about their childhood in the depression years.  He sold magazines door to door even though he couldn’t read, and could only tell the magazines by the sizes and shape of the print on the cover. My Kerry-born grandmother would fiercely lay into anyone in the neighborhood who would make fun of him “Get down on your knees now” she would say, “and thank the good Lord for the blessings he gave yourself now…. sure and he knows who the real amadan is here.”  Bernie passed away in 1989.

Brendan was born five years later in 1994.  Now he’s going to camp to be a camp counselor.  It’s like “worlds colliding” from a Seinfeld episode…my childhood…my uncle… my career.. my son…

Happy Father’s Day!