Today I went to our local amusement park, Kennywood Park here in the Pittsburgh area. Driving to the park I had to pass a neighborhood or two that me and my family used to live in. . .(we lived in many neighborhoods throughout my lifetime).
It was amazing to me that the ghosts of my past are alive and – I don’t know if well is the word for it, but they were there. In most every corner of this city there live the ghosts of my past. . .ghosts aren’t always bad things, sometimes they help me come to grips with those things that continue to dog me, that won’t leave me alone because I haven’t really dealt with it, mourned it and buried it.
These are my ghosts. . .
So, driving through this particular neighborhood I passed the private club that my dad used to bar-tend. As a matter of fact, he used to bar-tend in many bars in this neighborhood.
There is one story that I remember so very well. My father loved St. Francis of Assisi. He told me that he couldn’t find a statue of the saint. As it happened, in my current neighborhood I saw a St. Francis statue in the window of the St. Vincent De Paul store. I called my mother in law and asked her if she would be willing to go pick it up for me and I would pay her later. So, Mary called me and said she had a hard time carrying it home in a shopping bag, because the statue happened to be made of cement.
I went down, got the statue and with my three children we drove to my dad’s neighborhood looking for him so we could surprise him with the statue of St. Francis. It took a bit of time, but we pulled up in front of the bar. So, here I was with 2 little girls, ages 2 and 3 and an infant in an infant seat. The girls each held onto a pocket on each side of me and I carried my son in one arm and St. Francis in the other. We marched into the bar and found my dad behind the bar.
He was so surprised to see us and really surprised to see the statue. My dad immediately put the statue of St. Francis on the bar next to the cash register. As it turned out, a few people complained about St. Francis being on the bar. My dad then asked them where else should he be? Shouldn’t he be with the people???
This was so interesting because I didn’t know my dad to be real religious, although he was the one who decided that the whole family would become Catholic when I was 11 years old, so who really knows?
Anyway, this is also the neighborhood my father tended bar in and the neighborhood where he was mugged on a couple occasions. It is also the place where he was found in his apartment, apparently beat up and apparently had been lying there for over a day.
I received a call telling me to go to the hospital because he was taken there. By the time I arrived he was in the treatment room being attended to by the nurses. He saw me, and trying for a moment to raise his head to tell me something, fell back on the gurney. The nurses ushered me out and called a code. Dad had cardiac arrested and they were intubating him. It was crushing for me to know that my dad wanted to tell me something and didn’t get the chance. I never knew what it was he wanted to say. Maybe he wanted to tell me who did this to him. Perhaps one day I will see him and find out what it is that caused his death.
I have many more stories to tell, they are not all sad, but they are interesting. I am pursuing my ghosts so they can rest, because if they rest, so will I.
To be continued. . . . . .