Monday, February 28, 2011

My Dad, the smuggler

Today would’ve been my Dad’s birthday, or was my Dad’s birthday, or something to that effect. My Dad passed away in 2006, so though it technically still is his birthday to me, it really isn’t for him any longer, is it…
But anyway, a few words about my Dad today seem fitting.
My Dad was born in 1925, and you have no idea how much I would like to be a teenager again, just so I could roll my eyes at him and scoff “Dad, you are so last century!”.
My dad taught me loads, and the older I get the more I realize how important many of the lessons he imparted actually are. He taught me the importance of family. I remember the torture that was dinner time at my house when I was a teen and young adult. I wanted to go out with my friends or eat dinner in front of the tv or while talking on the phone, but no, he insisted that the whole family eat dinner together every night. Every night. I can count on one hand the nights when I went out to dinner with friends (ok, maybe two hands…), I could go out after dinner, but not for dinner. Dinner was mandatory family time. Only now do I realize how important that family time was. We would talk (well, he would talk… my dad was a talker!), and we learned so much. Table manners for one, no phones, the use of all the appropriate utensils (you eat your salad with a salad fork dammit!), elbows in, chin up, shoulders down and fork to mouth for crying out loud! We learned patience, waiting for everyone to finish their plate before moving on to the next course, we learned to make conversation and to listen without letting our eyes glaze over. We got to know our parents and they got to know us, and we learned to be with adults and not just our peers. We learned respect.
My Dad was an optimist. He always found the good, even when things looked bad. He was a happy guy. He liked good food and good wine, he liked beautiful women and beautiful things. He was a geologist and though he worked in the oil business he still loved stones. He could sit in jewelry stores for hours talking about quality and clarity and color density, and amazingly, the jewelers would sit with him for hours even if he didn’t end up buying anything. He taught me that passion is infectious, so it’s important to be passionate about something.
My Dad talked me out of going to med school. Thank God! Cause I would’ve hated it, and been horrible at it, and if heaven forbid, I had managed to graduate from med school I would’ve been a truly bad doctor. Sometimes our parents really do know us better than we know ourselves.
He was a really smart guy. A scientist but, I think, a humanist at heart. He loved to read, he watched documentaries, he still remembered parts of Dante’s Divine Comedy memorized when in school (in the 1940’s). He was also a pain in the ass. He hated the music we listened to, and kept trying to steer us towards Puccini or Brahms, he thought most of the movies we watched were garbage and let us know, vocally and repeatedly, how idiotic he thought we were being and let’s not even talk about the sitcoms. He was, of course, always right.
I had the worst fights of my life with him, and he said some truly hurtful things, but he taught me to argue my point, organize my thoughts and present them properly, even in the heat of the moment. In fact, my husband rarely argues with me, because he says I always win in the end, even when I’m dead wrong. Thanks Dad!
He was a resourceful guy, during WWII my Dad, my Uncle and a friend of theirs smuggled salt and cigarettes from Switzerland to Italy to help support their families. My Dad, the smuggler. This story always made me laugh.
He was generous, always happy to lend a hand, always putting our material needs before his. He also ruled the house with an iron fist and what he said went, no arguments. He was a bit of a  sexist and raised my brother and I with a double standard, but only as far as what we were allowed to do socially, we both got the same education and opportunities. He was born in the 1920’s, but he was a forward thinking, modern man. I’m sorry if you didn’t get to know him.
He had a strong personality a charisma that is hard to find, he also had a knack for ticking people off, let’s just say he wasn’t the kind of man that went unnoticed. He was far from perfect, and he wasn’t easy to live with and yet I miss him every day. Because, you see,  despite his flaws, he was perfect to me.


  1. Sorry he's not around to read this but I'm glad you have such fond memories of him...

  2. Thoughtful and caring... any chance you have a picture of him as a young man? I have an immage of un uomo con grande fascino?! hugs, amy

  3. Thanks Tracy, and thanks for stopping by!

  4. Amy I actually have a picture of him from when he met my mom that I absolutely love, I have to go hunt it down and scan it!

  5. What a loving and poignant portrait of Fabrizio -- a great, great man -- a vanished breed, methinks.
    You've truly painted him as he was -- I fondly remember some of those family dinners. What a privilege to have known him, what an honor for you to have been his daughter.
    Warm thoughts, Alcira

  6. What a great memories of your father. Sounds like he would have been an interesting man to know.

  7. I remember him, and he was exactly like you describe him. One of the things I remember about him is that he always liked his meal with bread and that he did not like mixing his food, so no beans and rice for him. My absolute favorite was that he made a mean omelet, and he gave me the secret so now I can also make a mean omelet. :) Yara thank you so much for sharing so many other things that I did not know about your dad and thanks Fabrizio for all the lives you touched.

  8. I can count myself among the lucky ones who met your father. He was a joyful, charismatic man with a lot to say and a lot to teach. He also did a great job raising a family, by the way. It is beautiful and important that you always celebrate his birthday in your heart, this will keep him alive.
    P.S. Funny, my stepfather often recited parts of the Divina commedia and F's father does too must have been en vogue to study it by heart in those days...

  9. Thanks guys, I always get sentimental around his birthday.

  10. Sorry he's not around to read this but I'm glad you have such fond memories of him...