It’s Not Just a Ham Sandwich
By Bernadette A. Moyer
It’s not just a ham sandwich, it is a memory, a memory that I share with my father. My father loved a good deli sandwich with freshly cut meats and cheeses. He has been gone from this world for more than a handful of years now. He left the home I lived in when I was just a child in the sixth grade when my parents divorced. As a teenager I visited him often.
He taught me how to make and eat the best ham sandwich and all these years later that ham sandwich brings me memories of him. It was a sandwich made on the freshest white bread with deli cut ham and white American cheese and sliced tomatoes with lettuce and mayonnaise and of course salt and pepper on the tomatoes. I remember summer tomatoes on this sandwich and I remember sitting side by side with him while we chatted and ate our sandwiches together.
Like all people my dad had a good side and a not so good side, he had a dark side but he could also be the most charming man. I could remember his temper or his darkest moments but I always chose to see the best in him. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t see the bad stuff; it doesn’t mean that I liked it but he was my father and the only father that I ever knew and loved. Much of his darkness was tied to his alcoholism, a disease that he managed to stay dry from for the last 30 or 40 years of his life.
I could focus on the negative, he did a lot of crappy things when he was married to my mother but just like that ham sandwich that I so enjoyed I would rather remember the good in him. He was a small town guy from a tiny town in Pennsylvania, he was Irish and Catholic. He was one of five children one brother died as a child at the age of 7 and another sister as a young woman from alcoholism. He entered the United States Army as a teenager and served two terms in Korea. He was injured in the service and honorably discharged with a purple heart. This injury caused him to have epileptic seizures.
Women loved him and boy did he love women! He married twice first my mother with whom he had five daughters and later his second wife that he had two more girls and finally a son. He was a carpenter by trade, built a few houses and worked in the engineering department of the same hospital where my daughter was born. Dad worked there for about 25 years before he retired.
His soul was that of an artist, he could draw and paint and build things, he worked with his hands, and dad taught me to love country music. He loved music by Johnny Cash and the Highwaymen.
So today for lunch I had the best ham sandwich…but it really was so much more than that … it was about my father and me, it was about loving and respecting him as my father. It was about knowing that he wasn’t a perfect man, he had challenges and he had struggles but he cared about the people in his life and he lived by a code. No one had to tell him when he screwed up because he already knew.
When you really love someone you love them imperfections and all, if I wanted to, I could make a case as to why he didn’t deserve my love, but that isn’t how I was built or who I am. Maybe I learned it from dad; if you want to be forgiven you must also be forgiving.
Thinking of you dad! May you be resting in eternal peace, I pray.
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