Dad and Sydney Carton


Last Sunday was Father’s Day, a busy day for the fortunate amongst us who still can hug their fathers, a day of recollection for the rest of us. For some the memories are recent and shadowed by loss while others treasure precious moments untarnished by time. And in this way I remember my father.

Lifted in your arms

            Watching the moon rise higher…

            Wrapped warm against cold.

It’s said that opposites attract. My mother was full of energy—Dad was laid back, easy going. My mother loved flowers and gardening—Dad would not have been able to tell a rose from a turnip. Both of them were courageous people, but while Mom would have faced an invading army without flinching, Dad would have made sure that there was a Plan B in the works.

As early as I can remember, Dad read to us in the evenings. His choice of books was not the literature to which Uncle Harry introduced me but ranged more to Peter Rabbit and Cinderella. Later, these morphed into adventure stories—the more imaginative the better. Soon, he, my mother and I were taking turns reading King Solomon’s Mines, The Three Musketeers and The Count Of Monte Christo. Dad would always get involved in what he was reading, and I loved the way he would chuckle during D’Artagnan’s exploits or get choked up over Tiny Tim’s death. On occasion he would become outraged over injustices and inaccuracies.

           Tale Of Two Cities was a pet peeve. “What nonsense,” he would snap when we got to Sydney Carton’s iconic last lines. “Why would anyone want to get himself killed to help his rival in love?”

“It’s a story,” Mom would point out, peaceably. “He hadn’t done much with his life, you see. It was a noble gesture for Sydney to sacrifice himself for his love.”

Dad would produce something that sounded like a snort. “Foolishness if you ask me. He could have changed his ways, couldn’t he? Made something of himself? Helped Lucy and her family in every possible way? But no, he had to take the easy way out.”

Mom invariably pointed out that it was hardly easy to go to the guillotine, but Dad did not retreat. “I might do the same thing for you, Jo, but I certainly wouldn’t put my head on the block for some chap who looked like me!”

Oddly enough, it was to my practical father that I would take my problems. Situations which I would not have discussed with anyone, not even my mother, were  often hashed out between us. He could keep a secret and knew when to listen without interrupting, and his advice, seldom given, always provoked thought. Once at a friend’s wedding, he shook his head over the somewhat pompous groom. “Always marry someone with whom you can talk about anything,” he advised me. “That’s most important. The rest—money, position—doesn’t wear as well.”

My father lived a long, happy life and died in his sleep at the age of eighty. I was a continent away when it happened, and I still remember being left with a sense of unreality. Dad, I remember thinking passionately, is still alive. Surely, he was.  He was reading his newspaper and shaking his head over the business column or re-reading A Tale Of Two Cities and waxing indignant over Sydney Carton’s idiocy. Any minute now, he’d look us, see me, and smile. He was alive.

And in all ways that matter, he still is.

When I think of him,

            There is that remembered smile…

            Never forgotten.


“Lily Fan” wallhanging


About Maureen C. Wartski

I’m Maureen Wartski, writer, artist, wife, mother, grandmother; you can see that I have many of the bases covered. I was born in Ashiya, Japan, a (then) small town which lay cradled between sea and mountains. In the evenings, we would walk along the road that ran past Osaka Bay, and a great moon would rise out of the water to turn the world to silver. I’m told that my first words were, “Big moon!” All my life I have felt the tug to write something, draw something, put together something with fabric, string and color, and the urge to create has grown through the years. I suppose, then, that it’s a natural thing that this blog be full of the things that so many of you enjoy doing…drawing, making something with fabric, and writing. Yuri's Brush with Magic, my newest book for middle schoolers follows the adventures of a brother and sister, the magic of words, and the incredible magic of the natural world. I'd love to hear from you! You can send me a note at: My blog is here: Or friend me on Facebook!

12 responses »

  1. A beautiful post. I miss my father, too… And am so thankful for having him as my dad.

    I believe your post would have made your daddy Proud.

  2. You bring up memories of my parents. There was the same kind of duality of a laid back, gentle, thoughtful father and a doer, practical, lively mom. They complemented each other and gave me the best of themselves as they did for each other albeit for only 12 short years. Thank you for reminding me of the precious gifts that were given so unstintingly. Love Fran

    • Hi, Fran– I really was remembering more and more of my dad lately. Mom was the doer, the lightning in my life. Dad was quiet, smart as a whip, good at business… and he had one heck of a sense of humor! Our Mark reminds me of him…

  3. What a lovely family portrait you paint. My family was fractured from a young age, so I’ve not had the pleasure … and I’ve always felt that sense of loss, because even though my father is alive, we are not close. However, I married a man with whom I can speak about anything, and I see how devoted he is to me and the children, and the past longings disappear. Strong fathers make strong sons and daughters. We are blessed.

    And yes, he is still alive … I believe in eternal life, this life on earth is just a sojourn.

  4. Indeed, we are. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, Vijaya. I have often reflected as I grow older that I was so very, very lucky to grow up as I did. I’ve been thinking more and more of my dad lately… and this particular memory popped up around father’s day, so I thought I should write about it.

  5. I truly wish that I had the chance to meet him. My own grandfathers (each so very different) were both incredible influences, and I would have loved to have known Bert’s. Jo had such an impact in the years we had her with us. Of course, I’d also have to thank you all for the contribution to the guy that I always talk to!

    • Dad was an interesting mix of a very shrewd businessman and a people-person…. he always knew how to read people. He was excitable about small things, but the big things seldom ruffled him. Once, when I was worried about the Korean war, he said, “Don’t worry abot it. Every generation thinks it’s going to be the last, and so far we have survived.”
      I also took his advice about marriage to heart…

  6. Thank you, Linda. I was his only chick and child… indeed, the only child in a mess of childless uncles and aunts. I imagine they spoiled me terribly, but they also taught me to give back more than I received. Their most precious gift was all the time in the world that I wanted….

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