Happy Fathers Day Sonny

LER 1 ID Card Front _ADJ

Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)- Weekend contributor

This is a personal story that I need to share with you.  For many years before I became a Dad, Fathers Day always gave me mixed emotions.  Growing up without knowing my Father always made me uncomfortable on this special day.  While I always considered that my Mother did a masterful job handling being both a Mother and a Father to me and my siblings, there was still something missing.  My Dad would have turned 93 this past week and his birthday went by with only a few Facebook posts and comments from my siblings and relatives.  I am sure that my Mother was thinking about him on that day, but when I was young, Fathers Day was not a holiday in our house.

My Dad was born in 1921 and was one of 11 children born to Alex and Min Rafferty.  He grew up in Northern Lake County, Illinois and his father and my Grandfather, ran a moving and storage business that kept the entire family busy.  My Dad was named Lawrence, but was called Sonny by his Mother and Father and his siblings because he was born after a few girls in a row so my Grandfather was happy to have another Son.  I was never able to personally wish him a Happy Fathers Day because he was killed in the Service in March of 1951, just a few short weeks before I was born.  However, in the last several years I have thought about him often and written about him and his life, but I still have never wished him a Happy Fathers Day. 

When I was in Grade school, I missed my Father every time there was a Father/Son event.  While the Benedictine Sisters would make sure I was invited to the events and some of my friends fathers would invite me to come with them, I often felt out-of-place.  I was grateful for the invitations, but I would usually say thanks, but no thanks when asked.  I am sure I missed out on a lot of fun times, but I guess I may have felt embarrassment and took the easy way out.

In most respects, my Mother did many of the things that a Dad would do, but when it came time for sports, she was not able to show me the way.  My brother, who was 3 years older stepped in when he was older and played baseball and football with me and got me started in sports.  I always wonder who helped him when he was younger? Needless to say, my Mom would drive me everywhere, when I couldn’t ride my bike, in order to keep me involved in sporting activities and spent countless hours in the bleachers or stands, in order that I could experience and play Little League, Pony League, High School baseball and basketball and even some Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) football in grade school.

When it came to my graduations, and then my marriage and the birth and baptisms and first communions of my children, my Mom was always there. But there was something, someone missing at all of those watershed events.  Someone who didn’t get the opportunity to see me grow up or my older siblings grow up and have families.  When we would celebrate Fathers Day at our house or at my siblings houses over the years, we always thanked my Mom for all that she did, but I never wished my Dad a Happy Fathers Day.

In many respects, when I have attended wakes and funerals of friends parents over the years, and some of them would say that since I lost my Dad, I knew how they felt.  I would invariably tell them that they had it worse than me because I never felt the loss that my Mother felt or my older siblings who did know my Dad as very young kids.  I am not so sure that my statement was accurate, because not having a Father was a loss in itself.  But I would rarely admit that when I was a young man.

Now that I am in my 60’s, I have worked hard to find out as much as I could about my Dad and his life and how he died.  I learned about him being credited with 50 bombing missions in World War II  as a B-24 pilot, flying out of Italy.  I learned about the jobs he had after the Second World War and his service in the Air Force Reserve.  I learned that his last job before his reserve group was reactivated, he was a fireman for his hometown.  I was able to learn more about his last flight, even though there are many unanswered questions of just what happened to the plane and to him and the 50 plus other souls on board.  However, I have never wished him Fathers Day.

When I visit with my Mother at her assisted living facility, I will ask her about my Dad to try to fill in the gaps.  I have learned some things about my Dad from her in the last few years that she never told me before, or maybe I never heard before.  For someone who had to cope with 4 kinds under the age of 6 and my birth 6 weeks after the Air Force C-124 carrying my Dad and over 50 other airmen ditched in the Atlantic, my Mother was able to put us all through school and college.  My oldest sister obtained her Doctorate and all of my sisters graduated from college and my brother went to back to college after returning from Vietnam.  I think I shocked them all when I graduated from College and then Law School.  So my Mom must have done something right.  She was both Mother and Father to me and my siblings.  But still, there was something, someone missing.

It way past time for me to do something I have never been able to do.  Something that I probably always repressed myself from doing these past 63 years.  I guess it is never too late, but it does feel a little late.  Happy Fathers Day Dad.  I should have said it sooner, even though you weren’t there to hear me say it.   Then again, maybe you were there.

Don’t ever miss the opportunity to wish your Mother Happy Mothers Day  or Happy Fathers Day to your Father or to tell them or any family members that you love them.  You never know when you will no longer have the opportunity to tell them how you feel.  Don’t put it off.  Do it today.

Happy Fathers Day to everyone and especially, Happy Fathers Day Sonny.  I am sorry it took me so long! So very sorry.


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61 thoughts on “Happy Fathers Day Sonny”

  1. No love from GBer’s today. How professional!! They were kind words to raff and all fathers. Hopefully Darren will come through, he’s a pro.

  2. rafflaw,

    Happy Father’s Day! You have done honor to your father’s memory by being a good son, a good father, and a good man. Your mother must be an extraordinary individual!

  3. This is a veeerrry good article. By coincidence I have been thinking about my father a lot in the past year and several aspects of life and being a father. I was not a father in my prior life as a human but my father was a very able one. A point I wish to inject here is the situation when a dad gets dissed. This can come from several directions: mom, his brothers and sisters, his other kids, his friends. My dad was dissed for being aloof and too busy with his self owned business to do all the sport events with four kids. He went in to his shop on Saturday to see that all was right. He did accounting Sunday afternoon at the dining room table. When things needed to be bought he provided. The college thing comes along. There is a slight dispute about private school over community college. Mother won out and hence four kids were sent to private four year colleges and two on to grad school. He worked until he was 75 and only quit because he was talked into it. Sold the business, had few hobbies other than walk the dog. Others dissed him for being a drinker. That is always a rock that people like to throw. I heard if from a number of critics. He did too. He was not thanked enough by me or my siblings for all he did. We all went on to be successful in business and professions and self employment. We were all good at our own accounting needs. Today I had planned on going off the dog wagon and having a bourbon in his honor. Instead, I got to read this blog article and then write my own tribute here. It has been 34 years since his death. In my next incarnation, if the dont let me come back as a dog, I will try to be a good dad like he was to me. If I get to come back as a dog, I will be a good dog dad. It is my pledge. In the meantime, I am looking out for the puppies around the marina here and plan on attending a dog wedding tomorrow.

  4. Rcampbell, thanks for sharing that video of your dad singing. Wonderful strong voice, you are so lucky to still have him in your life. Happy Father’s day to him too!

  5. Lovely story about your father Raff, so sorry you lost him so young, I know how hard it must’ve been for your mother, but sounds like she did a magnificent job raising you kids.

    Happy Fathers day to all the dads, hope you have good weather and great food and drink, enjoy!

  6. Nick Spinelli:

    Thank you for your generous comments. I’m a faithful reader-every day. I still have an active criminal law practice and yes I still enjoy representing these alleged “criminals”. I join in the discussion on occasion.

    As you know, we are both Italian, and our host, Jonathan, is one half Italian(Sicilian) and one half Irish. There are some frequent Italians voices on this blog. For our non-Italian bloggers, here is an introduction on celebrating Father’s Day in Italy:

    Learn Italian Holidays – Father’s Day – Festa del Papa

  7. Help again please. Will someone please retrieve my comment. Thank you.

  8. Karen S

    You hit it right on the head. He actually had quite a day on June 6. In addition to the honor of singing the National Anthem on June 6, he was interviewed earlier in the day by one of the Phoenix TV stations about his service during WWII. When asked what he wanted people to remember about D-Day, part of his response was “…especially those who didn’t have the opportunity to come home…”


    My sister-in-law has even set up a Facebook page called Honoring Lew Campbell.

    Nick S


    1. rcampbell – thanks to your father for his service and may he have a great fathers day. I do not watch the local news or follow the Diamondbacks, but he made quite an impression. Good on him!

  9. Paul:

    NO! I had not heard. Casey Kasem always seemed ageless. So sorry for his loss.

  10. Frank, Thanks much. Your presence here is always positive and inspiring and sadly too infrequent. Turn down one of those criminals and spend some more time here!

  11. rcamball:

    WOW! Great video! What a tribute to your father. He’s a hero. He must have been thinking of all the guys who didn’t come home. Please thank him for his brave service.

  12. raff, What I like most about blogs are the personal stories. That is history. It is not dates, battles, treaties, memorized. It is the story behind people and events. Having a good friend whose dad died when he was 8, I have some idea of your life. This friend had 2 younger brothers, so I saw it through your brothers eyes. John was from an immigrant family from Poland. John was the man of the house. I knew his dad, but questions about him to John were answered tersely, or not @ all. His dad died of a heart attack. John hated his dad for dying. He carried that w/ him all his life. His brothers saw that on a daily basis but they did not hate their dad for dying, only John.

    There is no question, children are best served by being raised in mother/father home. There are too many fatherless homes today. My friend John, like raff, had a to deal w/ that in the 50/s, 60’s. There was a certain stigma even if your dad died in the service, heart attack, etc. There is much less stigma now. That is good. The other part of raff’s story is the topic we have touched on here previously. MikeA wrote about it recently. Secrets, or just not talking about unpleasant topics in families. My mom grew up in an Irish immigrant family of 13 kids during the Depression. Her alcoholic father was absent. The kids went hungry. I mean REALLY hungry. Family photos from the Depression are shocking. They are a thin family but EVERYONE was gaunt. My mom talked about going to bed hungry and how that changes you. My point is my mom talked about the bad topics. She told us about her father never being there, spending stints in jail, throwing the Christmas tree out the door in a drunken rage. Most of my cousins, and I have 45 first cousins, knew NOTHING of their grandfather. He did not die until the 70’s, but me and my siblings were I believe, the only ones to ever have met him. My mom not only told us about him, she made sure we knew him before he died. She forgave him. NONE of her siblings did. My family paid for his funeral and we were the only family members there. It was a struggle financially. But, my old man said it was the right thing to do. To this day, @ family weddings and funerals, I am peppered by my cousins about their ne’er to well grandfather.

    This brings me back to my old man. I was blessed w/ a wise and loving father. He always did what was right. He worked all different shifts in a factory but would ALWAYS be @ his kid’s events. Sports for my brother and I, plays and recitals for my sisters. There was never a sense of obligation. He was there out of pure unabashed love. He would go sleepless to see one of his kids perform. He taught me so much. One is that unabashed love of children, not just his kids, ALL kids. When I see a child in a store, on the street, I always work to get them to smile. It works almost every time. No words, just a big genuine smile which is virtually always returned.

    Happy Father’s Day to all. Father’s Day is not as big a deal as Mother’s Day. Children spend 60% more on Mother’s Day. I abide that, mother’s are more important. But, the decline in our society can be traced to single mom homes. Men need to step up and be the responsible fathers we celebrate today. We need to “Man up,” as the comically unmanly John Kerry told Edward Snowden, a real man.

  13. Casey Kasem, who entertained radio listeners for almost four decades as the host of countdown shows such as “American Top 40” and “Casey’s Top 40,” died early today, according to a Facebook post from his daughter Kerri Kasem.

    Casey Kasem was 82 and had been hospitalized in Washington state for two weeks.

    “Even though we know he is in a better place and no longer suffering, we are heartbroken,” Kerri Kasem wrote. “Thank you for all your love, support and prayers. The world will miss Casey Kasem, an incredible talent and humanitarian; we will miss our Dad.”

    R.I. P.

  14. Thanks for sharing you story, rafflaw. Due to readng your story, I wished my deceased father a Happy Fathers’s Day.

  15. Happy Fathers Day Rafflaw.
    I can’t think of a much better way to pay tribute to and wish your father, Sonny a Happy Fathers Day than you just did!
    Thank you for sharing.

  16. Thank you to all of you and enjoy this day with your loved ones.
    rcampbell, what a wonderful tribute to your Dad and an amazing keepsake! And what a voice!!
    Thanks Frank. and thanks RTC. I like puns too!

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