When my stepdad came into the picture, I was about 11 years old. There were five of us kids, four girls, and one boy. My older sister was eight years older than I was and she had just left home the year before when she turned 18. She joined the W.A.C.S to get out and away from home.
Jack asked us if he could marry our mom which I was very impressed with and the four of us said yes even though my brother didn’t fall in love with him like the rest of us did. He came from money but drank it all in his early years. He was broke and just out of jail when he met my mom. They met at an AA meeting and he fell in love with her.
We weren’t sure what to call him after they married 2 months later. Our new stepfather thought that it would be appropriate to call him daddy-Jack since our biological father was still alive and had visiting rights. It wasn’t long before I dropped the Jack and just called him daddy. Not long after that, my sisters did the same, but my brother just always called him Jack. Ronny only approved of them marrying after he observed how well he treated mom and how happy she was now.
Ronny was older and remembers the fights, the screaming, the pushing and shoving that went on between my father and mother. I was only six when they separated and remember some fighting, but he remembered a lot more. The house was now quiet with the only fighting that went on was between us kids which were quite normal.
Since my daddy had money when he was a kid, he was raised with impeccable manners. We, on the other hand, were very inept and crude in ours. His manners followed Emily Post, and ours was sort of fashioned after the three stooges. He was not too impressed with the way we reached in front of everyone to get what we wanted. He just watched us for a while and didn’t say anything.
One day came along that he could no longer stand it. He could no longer bite his tongue even though he wanted to give us time to adjust.to him being a part of our family. He talked about what was polite and not polite and started with the things that bothered him the most. I guess that chewing with our mouth open and talking with food in our mouths was the first thing he tackled. The correction came by way of verbal reminders. It didn’t take long to get these bad habits almost all under control when I got a big surprise one day.
I reached for the pot roast which was sitting in front of my sister who was sitting next to me at the dinner table. When I reached for the dish, I got stabbed with a fork. Well, that was a strange thing to do and it shocked me, and don’t even mention the pain on the back of my hand. I pulled my hand back and glared at daddy-Jack. I couldn’t help but wonder why he just did that. The twins started to laugh.
I just glared at him. He finally asked me if I knew why he did that. I said “NO” with tears in my eyes. He said that Emily Post, the leading authority on manners, says that reaching in front of someone is very bad manners. I asked, “How else can I get it without picking the dish up myself?” He then said these foreign words to me that I will never forget. He said, “You ask someone to pass the ‘whatever it is you want'” “From now on if anybody forgets to do that, the fork will be on the move again.”
The only thing I could think to say as I rubbed the back of my hand, with tears still in my eyes was,” Okay Jack, next time I will ask someone to pass me the ‘whatever.'” I never got stuck in the back of my hand again, and soon after started calling him daddy once again.
He was a wonderful father to us and thought of us as his own children. We were his family and we came first. He always told his secretary that if one of his family members’ calls and wants to talk to him he told her to always put the call through to him even if he was in a meeting. I remember many times coming home from school and if he was there, we’d always go into his study and talk. I couldn’t talk to my mother, but I could always talk to my dad and tell him anything because he understood, he didn’t judge me, and he just listened.
I was forever worrying that the man I thought of as my father would die not knowing how much I really loved him. On his dying bed, he called me to come close he wanted to talk to me. When I leaned over, he begged me not to ever forget him. I started to cry and told him I was always afraid he would die without knowing how much I loved him. We both cried and laughed at the same time as I told him that of course, I wouldn’t forget him as long as I was alive. That was the last time I saw him, he died the next day before I could get back to the hospital.
I now think fondly of the fork that stabbed the back of my hand. I cried for weeks when daddy died and the flying fork will forever remain a memory.