My father is a fascinating man regardless of his inability to park within the painted lines. He’s all bluster and noise on the surface, but affection and creative optimism on the inside. His external demeanor is a product of 40 plus years as an electrical contractor in Chicago. Communication is transmitted with raised tones and sharp words on a job site. As a foreman you’re more concerned with being heard than listening. This kind of back and forth dialogue dictated the style of all his personal interactions. He barrels through all situations with the same level of “getting shit done.” If it requires a soft touch, he may not be your man.
Even as a boy, I found it fascinating how he seemed to jump from zero to sixty in his tone. I had to understand that sometimes he wasn’t yelling at us, he was just loud because there were very few gradients in his speech (the slow hearing loss from heavy machinery noise didn’t help) and it’s how he processed his thoughts. I remember times when one of us kids would hurt ourselves and my father was clearly concerned and worried, but to a younger mind it was like we were in trouble. “Jesus Christ! What did you do?! What the hell happened?!” These loud questions were often met with more tears and exasperated half responses. We'd play off each other’s escalated emotions, getting nothing constructive done for a good couple of minutes.
Even when driving around, the lightest and most joyful conversations about going to the movies and getting ice cream would be interrupted with cursing out another driver, and then back to popcorn and sundaes. It was an oddly impressive juxtaposition and never felt fabricated. He was and still is a passionate dude with a really thin filter. I got very used to it over the years, even began to question and attempt to understand the borderline insanity of it. Not to mention what behaviors I’ve adopted for myself. To this day, my brother and I do our best to call one another out when we start to escalate in a Dad way. It’s not meant to be demeaning but delivered with a laugh. We help prevent one another from going full Bartocci.
When trying to understand your own thought processes and next steps, it’s always beneficial to involve your earliest and most lasting role models. Advice from a loved one should never be scoffed at and at least entertained.
My father is retired and I’m transitioning careers. Both of us figuring out what comes next, in our own way. We’ve already had discussions about the future and I’m sure more will come. I’m even learning new things about him after all this time.
Stepping back and taking a look at what’s around me, I can’t help but realize that there will be many more words written about my family than I initially thought. There are so many stories I’ve yet to mine and I’m looking forward to it. Thanks, Pop…you freaking animal