Saturday, December 19, 2015

A World of Bricks and Mortar

One week ago, many people observed the 100th birthday of Frank Sinatra.  Undeterred, they were, by the fact that Sinatra died seventeen-and-one-half years shy of being there with them. 

Continuing the tradition of marking never-to-be-realized milestones, today a considerably smaller number of people shall observe the 92nd birthday of WPK, Sr.  Once again, none involved in the marking of this event shall be too hung up on the fact that WPK, Sr. fell thirty-four and one-half years shy of being here today to critique the performance of whichever grandchild or great-grandchild would have been tasked with the responsibility of blowing the cake's candles out.  Perhaps the critique would have had a "gonif" or two sprinkled in, being a special occasion.  If it did, my two older brothers and I would no doubt cast a sympathetic glance in its recipient's direction.  Been there.  Done that.  

One of the neatest things any stranger has ever done for me happened several years ago when Rachel Leanza, who was then employed at the Browning School in New York City, forwarded me a CD that contained a dozen or so photographs of Dad from yearbooks in which he appeared during his years there as a teacher, coach, and Assistant Headmaster.  

The backstory regarding why I had contacted her to request any such photographs is long (and candidly of no moment whatsoever today) and it shall not be told here.  The important aspect of the story is the generosity of her gift, which I was then able to share with Mom and with all of the Kenny sibs.  Considering that only one member of the Next Gen - Jess - likely has any recollection of Dad and/or was born before he died - I thought the various branches of the family tree might enjoy looking at the photographs.  I know not whether any of them has kept them.  I know not whether Mom has kept the set I sent to her in Florida.  It is not my place to ask.  A gift, once given, belongs to the recipient.  

I was looking at the digital version of those photographs again this week and I came across something in one of the Browning yearbook photos to which I had previously never paid any attention at all.  At Wardlaw and, thereafter, W-H, Dad was famous (or infamous if you prefer) for his unbelievably corny school and/or student-themed poems or songs.  I had no idea that his love of all things cornball was one that he had developed while he was still teaching on the other side of the Hudson - until I looked again at this yearbook page and the words written beside the top and bottom photographs that appeared on it: 

Dad and I did not have a lot of time together.  He died a little less than four months after my fourteenth birthday.  Truth be told, a lot of the time we did have together we pissed away, including but not limited to the last year of so he was alive, during which time we said as little as possible to one another and kept our interaction to a minimum.  We might have loved one another but we sure as hell did not like each other very much.  

Whether it is a phase that we would have outgrown I do not pretend to know. I do not live in a theoretical world but, rather, one of bricks and mortar.  I know only that we did not.   

Although today is an appropriate day for a wish, I suppose...

WPK, Sr. 
12/19/23 - 05/31/81

...if I could just find someone to blow out the candles.


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