‘ ” ” ” ” ” ” ‘‘ ‘‘ ” ” ” ‘is for Pa.
Charles Davis Gnecco, “Pa,” was a good man, a solid man, an honest man, a hardworking man, a no nonsense employee, and a no nonsense human being. He was the man I might have chosen to be my dad had I been given a choice.
Pa was my father-in-law. My daughters called him Pa. I adopted the name as well, regarding it more as a title of respect.
I liked Pa. And Pa liked me. After Mary and I divorced, Pa’s attitude toward me remained unchanged. Once, when I visited Pa and Eleanore in Tucson, he asked me to go to church with him on Sunday morning.
At the point in the service when visitors and guests were introduced, Pa stood. “I’d like to introduce my son, Dennis, who is visiting from California.”
At home after church, I went to my room to change clothes. There was a knock at the door. “May I come in?” Pa asked.
“Of course,” I said.
“I hope I didn’t embarrass you by introducing you as my son,” he said.
“No, not at all,” I said.
“Well, the truth is, that’s how I feel about you. You’re more a son to me than my own son.”
“Thank you, Pa,” I said. “That’s so kind of you to say.”
“Well, it’s true,” he said, and held out his arms to hug me.
Following Eleanore’s death, Pa spent his last years living with Mary and Dick. He loved Mary and Dick and was grateful to them for their concern and for the care they gave him. He loved the grandchildren and he loved participating in all of the family activities.
Having him closer gave me more time with him. Often, when I visited, I fixed his breakfast. I would set his place with his beautiful antique silver napkin ring. A family heirloom, the napkin ring was a thirtieth birthday present to Pa’s grandfather in 1897. I was impressed by its age and beauty. I loved keeping it polished.
“I think Dennis should have this when I die,” Pa said to Mary one morning after breakfast as I watched him slip his meticulously folded napkin into the napkin ring.
The napkin ring is a symbol of Pa’s feeling for me and a daily reminder of a man I loved dearly who I might have chosen to be my dad.