On the mind of the Rev. Canon Deacon Denise LaVetty

Jun 14, 2024

Dear Friends,

Recently, I was engaged in a conversation and I mentioned a Gilbert & Sullivan song. The person I was speaking with had no idea what the song was, so I Googled it and played it, while adamantly assuring him “You know this! Soon as you hear it, you’ll know what it is! It’s from The Mikado!”. The song played all the way through and…nothing! He had no idea, had never heard it before.

That does tend to happen. I would know a remote song or the words to songs, or the second verse of old popular songs, that no one else knew. Just the other day, I realized this is something that came from my father.

My father had a deep love of music, all kinds of music, and the Grundig Majestic* was always playing, mostly the classical station (unless it was Saturday night and we had to watch Bonanza or Sunday night The Ed Sullivan Show). At his insistence, I began piano lessons at age 6 and those outlived any hope of Julliard High School or a Carnegie Hall gig.

My father was a true “Renaissance Man”, talented in many things. An expert tailor (I didn’t have a coat or dress “off the rack” until after he died), bartender, carpenter, decorator, calligrapher, many creative talents. But with all of that, he was not a “fun” dad.

My Uncle Andy, my Godfather, now he was the fun one! Always took us on interesting, fun outings on Sunday afternoons. We frequented the Carousel at Forest Park in Queens, drove to the beach, and often we would just go to the airport and walk around. Somehow we found that fun, especially when Uncle Andy would play the game “first one to spot a nun gets a quarter!” Really, you can’t make this stuff up. And, we always made a stop at the airport chapel to say a pray for the travelers.

My Uncle Ray was a NYC Police Officer. He was serious and strict, but had a joking side and a kindness that I discovered after my parents died. He took me out for my first driving lesson, driving me to a busy street, switching seats with me and saying “Now you do it”. He would remember when I was alone, and was always quick to invite me over on a 4th of July or Memorial Day, with “We’re gonna grill some franks, I’ll come and get you”.

But it was my brother-in-law, Al, who taught me how to parallel park!

Well, that was a fun reminisce, but by now you’re wondering what my point may be! It occurs to me that we can have many father figures in our lives, and I think that’s a good thing because it’s not fair to lay it all on one person. Some say it “takes a village” to raise children. Well, perhaps not a whole village, but it takes many people to form a child, to enrich them, to show them how to live (or how not to).

What I took from all my adult “father figures” was an interest and curiosity about a variety of things, an appreciation of music and art, love of the spontaneous fun afternoon, a reminder to be kind, to pray for others, and yes, some excellent driving skills.

Jesus would no doubt reflect on Father’s Day, “yes, my Father in Heaven, but wow, that Joseph was really amazing!”

This Father’s Day, let’s look at the bigger picture of all who have formed us, influenced us, guided and supported us, all who have made us who we are. And if they came up short or downright failed us in any way, let’s try to loosen our grip on that a little, be kind, forgive, pray for them.

Blessed and happy Father’s Day!

Deacon Denise

*Grundig Majestic was a wonderful, high quality radio – Google it!