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June 17, 2014

What Father’s Day Means To Me

What Do Newspapers, Money Clips, and Garlic Have To Do With Life?

Paul and Nalletta Giammatteo on steps kissing Father's Day memories

My Dad and Mom

I lost my father when I was still a young man of 27. That’s a lot more time than many people get, but it was too early for him to go. I still had a lot to learn. But every year on father’s day, I celebrate the time I did have with him, and I’m grateful for the things he taught me.

What Did He Teach Me?

Silly things. Things like…

  • How to fold newspapers perfectly so they didn’t open when I tossed them onto people’s steps.
  • How to slice garlic so thin “you could see through it,” he’d say.
  • How to keep your money organized, and all bills turned the same way, with all wrinkles smoothed out.

Father's Day memories bowl of garlic bulbsAs I said, these were silly things, but I did them. At first, I thought my dad was just being “a dad,” forcing me to do things that didn’t much matter. Then I started seeing the benefits.

  • The newspapers landed on the stoops and didn’t pop open; it saved me time.
  • The garlic was uniform and could be put on sandwiches evenly, improving the flavor.
  • The money I earned was easier to count, and I didn’t even have to take it out of the money clip.

As these lessons became ingrained in me, the process was no longer a chore, just something that had to be done. At the time, I didn’t realize the value of what he taught me; hell, I didn’t even realize he was teaching. Sometimes I thought he was just being a pain in the ass. Now, every Father’s Day, I remember.

money clip and bills, organized neatly. Father's Day memoriesFather’s Day Memories–What Changed?

I got married when I was 17. My first job was as a laborer for a masonry crew. I soon learned that stacking the bricks wasn’t much different than folding papers. If I did it, “just right” I saved time. During the next 40 years, I went through a lot of changes, from bricklayer, to homebuilder, headhunter, and now writer. The one constant was the things my father taught me never changed. Even now, as a writer, his lessons prove valuable. I know it doesn’t seem like those simple things have much to do with writing, but they do.

 c. rolled newspaper, showing lessons learned in life from early teachingsHe Wasn’t Teaching Me To Fold Papers…

…Or to slice garlic (and tomatoes and meat).
…Or to organize money.

He was preparing me for life.

I don’t fold papers anymore, but when I write a book, the preparation is the most important part. And I do it meticulously, knowing it will save me time, just like folding the papers did.

When I get a new idea for a new book, the first thing I do is sit down and organize my thoughts, and I make an outline, and then I read through it and smooth out the rough edges. Just like organizing and straightening the bills in my money clip.

And the garlic…that’s for making garlic and tomato sandwiches, without which life would be meaningless.

So every father’s day, while I’m eating spaghetti and meatballs cooked with the recipe my fantastic wife cloned from my father, I think of him and say a silent prayer, and then a “thank you.”

At the beginning of this post, I asked what newspapers, money clips and garlic had to do with life. I hope the answer is obvious—everything!

Paul Giammatteo and his sister, Margaret WWII Paul Giammatteo's famous golf swing 6 Giammatteo brothers playing pool

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Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”

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2 Responses to “What Father’s Day Means To Me”

  1. Jimmy,
    Your blogs, your writing, your feelings always bring me to tears……..good tears, happy tears, good memories tears. How I wish I could put my thoughts to words the way you do. Maybe not to write a whole book, but to be able to say exactly what I’m feeling and thinking. You indeed are blessed to have such a gift……….keep writing and sharing. Brenda

  2. Thanks, Brenda. You’re a sweetie. And thanks for taking time to comment.

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