January 10, 2014

Schappi Men as Fathers -- We Finally Get It Right!

The Three John Schappis as Father
Here I am between my father and grandfather. John Schappi I, II, and III. 

Although we visited my grandfather in Paterson, NJ only a few times, I remember him as cold and distant. I didn't sense any closeness or warmth between him and my father, either.

My relationship with my dad was much better. He had a good sense of humor, although it was often a kind of put-down humor that I have inherited, unfortunately. I should remind myself more often how hurt and inadequate I felt after his "funny" put-downs. 

As an alcoholic repressed homosexual, I was never going to win the Father of the Year Award. I loved my wife and kids, but I often felt I was play-acting as husband and father.

When I came out in 1977 -- and got sober in 1978 -- I could drop the play-acting. By then, both Ann and Todd were living on their own.

Again following Mick Jagger's maxim that "anything worth doing is worth overdoing," I became very involved in both the AA and gay worlds for several years, making lots of new friends. But I neglected my family.

Through the years, my family has become increasingly important to me.

The three John Schappis shared something else: feeling ill at ease with babies and young children. 

With each generation, the fathering got a little better, but there was lots of room for improvement.

Finally, A Natural Father

This photo from Christmas, 2008 shows my son Todd with his granddaughter Kaylee, who was wiped out after a series of holiday celebrations. It's a favorite photo on my refrigerator door, because it captures the warm, loving relationship Todd enjoys with his offspring.

No play-acting here. Todd loves kids from infancy on. And they reciprocate. 

These photos show Todd's easy gift for fatherhood:

Nintendo with Kaylee

A Pied Piper with all kids
Kaylee watches Kenzie take flight
We end where we started. This time, Todd is cuddling Kenzie on Christmas Eve. He could have used some cuddling himself. He'd hardly slept for two days, what with his regular 11pm-7am job, followed by baby-sitting the girls while Jessie, their mother,went to the hospital to deliver Camden, their new brother who joined the family on Christmas Eve. Todd was also hosting the family gathering for dinner and gift exchanges.


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