This Fathers Day is not the best, as we’re still gripped in an awful pandemic, but we’re doing what we can. Our dinner plans include takeout from a favorite Little Italy restaurant, Tra Di Noi.
I have two fathers, even though only one contributed genetic material. But both of them were responsible for raising me (along with my various mothers, whom I discussed a month ago).
My father, Robert DeCandido, met my mother at Fordham University, in a Romantic Literature class (yes, really). They got married on Fordham’s campus in September 1968 (after he graduated and when she started her senior year), and my mother gave birth to me in April of 1969 right before finals.
For the first few years of my life, Daddy was a cab driver on the night shift, thus allowing him to take care of me while my mother attended graduate school at Columbia University’s Library School. It was there that she met John Peters, an expat from Denver, Colorado also attending Columbia, and he became my nanny and eventually part of the family. When my parents got an apartment in the north Bronx, John slept on the couch until he decided to stay in NYC rather than return to Denver, and he grabbed the apartment below ours when it became available. Four years later, he went in with my parents on the house I grew up in, and that was that.
Both Daddy and John instilled in me so much: love of reading, love of odd hobbies, love of intellectual conversation, love of bullshitting with random strangers, love of storytelling. I don’t become a writer without these two inspiring me, and I don’t become as thoughtful as I am without these two, either, which is, honestly, even more important than my being a writer. (And, I hope, that quality makes me a better writer.)
But more than that, both these two take tremendous joy out of life. Besides being smart and learned and curious, the pair of them are also two of the funniest humans you’ll ever meet.
(My mother’s twin brothers, Fred and Nat, are both goofballs, and were even more so when they were teenagers. When my mother first brought my father home to meet the family, Fred and Nat were very unhappy to meet my father, because he was funnier than they were, and they really resented that.)
So Happy Fathers Day to my two Dads, who helped make me smart, who helped make me curious about the world around me, and who helped make me funny (and not just in looks).
(Picture taken by Wrenn Simms outside Mario’s Restaurant in Little Italy in the Bronx on Fathers Day 2017. Yes, the wind is blowing my hair around, but I don’t care.)