I’m feeling unusually narcissistic right now, and since it’s Father’s Day, I’m going to write about Frank Pignataro, my dad. He and I were close, always good to each other, though because I lived on Maui at the time I wasn’t there for him when he died of cancer in October 2007, which is probably one of those things that I shouldn’t really feel bad about, but part of me always will.
Anyway, that’s him on the left (which makes me the goofy looking urchin on the right). I’m guessing I was about two or three in that shot, which means the photo was taken in 1974 or 1975, which would make my father 35 or 36 in this shot — in other words, a couple years younger than I am right now.
He had that flattop haircut my whole life. That blue shirt, too, now that I think about it. Though I never thought much of it at the time, my dad had really gentle eyes. His parents and family had been good to him, and he (and my mom) passed that down to my sister and me.
My dad was an engineer, one of the last who was able to do so without a bachelor’s degree. He wasn’t into sports, though near the end of his life he suddenly got interested in Formula One Racing. He was like that all his life, taking up hobbies and interests with great determination, only to move on from them after a few months or even years and never look back. When my sister and I cleaned out our old house after he died we found the detritus left behind (my dad was also a pack rat) from his interests in martial arts, UFOs, creative writing, self-actualization, key-making, ancient mythology, jazz, astronomy and fishing.
For the most part, my dad worked. He was a good engineer, but he was a cog, and he knew it. My dad liked to think for himself, and he wasn’t allowed to do that at work. But he was paid well, and that meant he was able to support his family quite comfortably — nice house, cars for everyone, college tuition and retirement savings. So every Monday through Friday he left the house around six so he could leave work at the earliest time possible in the afternoon so he could come home and see my sister and me.
I don’t know if my dad knew he had cancer when I moved to Maui in 2003, but he must have known something was wrong. Anyway, he kept it to himself. Above all else in life, he wanted his children to make a living doing what they wanted to do, and maybe he thought if I knew I wouldn’t have gone. If he did, he was right.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I miss you.