By SUSAN TOBIAS, Pinch of Time
---- — In a few days, we will recognize our dads in honor of Father’s Day, a special celebration since 1910, to say, “Thanks, Dad, for all you do.”
I’m not naive enough to think that all fathers live up to TV-dad Ward Cleaver (”Leave it to Beaver”) or Robert Young in “Father Knows Best.” I would like to give a pat on the back to fathers who try their hardest to do a very challenging job, to raise children in a time when many just walk away from the problems.
My dad, Artie McGibbon, died when he was 50 in 1974. It was too young for a man to leave us. He had worked hard as a farm boy, served his country in World War II and brought his war bride (my mom) back to his homeland to start a family.
He farmed, worked construction, drove the bookmobile for many years and was director of transportation for Malone schools when they discovered the cancer. I never thought anyone would be able to fill in for him in our lives. I was wrong.
My stepfather, Frank Goddard, showed a lot of bravery when he married my mother in 1989 in Westville. Mum went to England after Dad died to help take care of her aging mother, and she met Frank. He was a bachelor. I guess you could say no woman turned his head like my mother did. His days consisted of hard work at a butcher’s shop and playing darts at the local pub.
Hauling half a beef on your shoulder around a meat warehouse is a hard job, but Frank’s steadfast dedication to hard work had been set when he helped support his mother and siblings after his father died. His time spent in the pub wasn’t just sipping a few bitter ales because English pubs are more like social clubs. He didn’t just play darts, he had won several championships over many years and had a long list of “mates” who patted him on the back when he walked in the door.
Fast forward to June 24, 1989, Presbyterian Church, Westville. Frank went in the church door a 49-year-old bachelor and came out a married man, husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, all because of two little words, “I do,” and he has. The man deserves a medal or to be named in the “Guinness Book of World Records.”
Since then, he has become a U.S. citizen, worked in the meat department at Price Chopper in Malone, retired and swapped darts for bowling, of which he is very dedicated and skilled. He and Mum built a house in Westville, and Frank has become a very settled in, content American. He says he has no desire to go back to England because it’s not the England he grew up in.
He has also become a dyed-in-the-wool Yank, nicknamed “Frank the Yank.” That name also lends itself to his other pastime, cheering on the Yankees. My niece, Lesley-Anne, and her husband, Joe, gave Frank a Christmas gift of tickets to a Yankees game this summer. Just mention the event and his face lights up, he rubs his hands together, and his smile cannot be matched.
While nobody can ever replace my dad, I wouldn’t want anybody else to be part of our lives than Frank William Goddard. He has cried with us when my nephew, Kurt, was killed in a car accident, celebrated with us at weddings and birthday parties, been there to love us in all situations and to lend a hand. He recently added great-great-grandfather to his list of titles and dotes over the new babies. He deserves “Happy Father’s Day” greetings for filling the gap for nearly 24 years.
I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you he also does dishes and peels potatoes in addition to all the “guy” jobs. I think we’ll keep him. Love you, Frank and “Granddad.” Thanks for always being there.
This Father’s Day, give a young father a pat on the back for struggling in this economy to provide for his family, or hug a dad who has stuck with the family through thick and thin. We all need a little appreciation once in awhile.
One last thought, as always, please be kind to each other. The world needs more kindness.
Susan Tobias lives in Plattsburgh with her husband, Toby. She has been a Press-Republican newsroom employee since 1977. The Tobiases have six children, 18 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. They enjoy traveling to Maine and Colorado, and in her spare time, Susan loves to research local history and genealogy. Reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.