Happy Birthday Dad

Today is my father’s 82nd birthday. I am the only daughter and the oldest of his five children. My parents have been married now 55 years.

That's me as a three month old with my Dad.  When I was born he had hepatitis and couldn't hold me for several months.  This might have been one of the first times he got to hold me.

That’s me as a three month old with my Dad. When I was born he had hepatitis and couldn’t hold me for several months. This might have been one of the first times he got to hold me.

I wasn’t especially close to my Dad while I was growing up because he was self-employed and he worked a lot of hours. He owned and operated his own plumbing, heating and air conditioning company. The company employed a steady stream of plumbing and heating professionals and at one point Dad was the President of the Plumbing and Heating Contractors Association of Western New York. All this led to his being out of the home for long hours of every day including Saturday’s.

My parents had little money when they first got married and the family recounts stories of the pink truck they owned which only had one door that opened, the passenger’s door.

Somewhere around my freshman year in high school I began to realize how expensive it was to have five children and to be responsible for bringing in the money to take care of us all. My Dad sent me and two of my brothers to private school, which even back in 1970 cost a pretty penny. I began working at the age of 15 so that I could be less of a financial burden to the family. I wasn’t asked to do this, but I figured I could make some money and buy my own clothes and spend it on buying those things that I needed instead of asking my Dad to work harder to get it for me.

I do not ever remember wanting for anything while growing up. There was always food on the table, heat on in the winter and clothes on our backs. My parents did without a lot of things, like when they drove around in a car with holes in the floor board because they couldn’t afford to buy a new car, or when my Dad worked on Sundays when a client had a need.

My Dad wasn’t an especially demonstrative person toward me or my mother. He never held my mother’s hand when they walked anywhere, and they never had any open displays of affection. He was very much a conservative, Catholic Italian man.

Because my Dad owned his own business, he would employ family members who found themselves unemployed for whatever reason. He often had uncles, cousins, nephews and sons working for him when they needed to make ends meet. My Dad is thought of highly in my family.

All of us children were taught to get up early to go to work. If Dad had to get up we all had to get up, even if it was 6:00 a.m. If there was no school, my brothers would head off to work with my Dad where they would learn to dig trenches or fix toilets. They worked alongside somewhat salty men who all worked hard, but my dad taught my brothers how to work harder. They are all stronger for it today.

I know my dad is responsible for the incredibly strong work ethic I and my brothers have. We watched him work hard to provide us with a middle-class life style in a nice middle class neighborhood. At one time or another, Dad’s plumbing business employed every one of his children, including me.

Me with my parents on December 23, 2005, the day I married Mike.  My Dad was my witness for the ceremony.

Me with my parents on December 23, 2007, the day I married Mike. My Dad was my witness for the ceremony.

Over twenty years ago Dad got hurt while on the job and it ended his working life. My two older brothers jumped in to keep the business going to help Mom pay the bills and they did an admirable job. When it became clear that Dad could no longer work the way he had for all those years, he moved with my Mom to California. My brothers kept the business going for a short time. They had dreams of their own and places they wanted to go, so eventually the business was closed.

My parents now live in California and are quite happy there. They have one son and his family who live nearby. They also have lots of nieces, nephews and cousins around. I have one brother in Nevada and two who still reside in Buffalo. We will all be calling Dad to wish him Happy Birthday and another year of good health with many more to come. I thought this year I would also say, “Thanks for everything you did for me while I was growing up and I love you, Dad.”

Florence Lince






Family, Family Everywhere

Or Fancy Meeting You Here

When I first met my husband Mike in 2005 I jokingly told him that I have family everywhere.  You see I am Italian and I do come from an incredibly large family.  I always thought everyone grew up with that many cousins.

The first generation of my family to be born here were my grandparents.  My great-grandparents were from Sicily.  They had 10 children.  Those 10 turned around and gave them 24 grand-children, and you see where this is going.

My first Thanksgiving with Mike I had 45 people for dinner.  He had to fly in from Seattle to my home in Las Vegas four days before Thanksgiving to help me cook all the food and the pies.  He was overwhelmed but this was just how I grew up.

Before we headed for Argentina in 2011 I had found out that, low and behold, I really did have family everywhere.  There are about 100 family members living in cities throughout Argentina and I connected via facebook with my cousin Claudia in Cordoba.  She speaks pretty good English.

We chatted back and forth and we gave her our itinerary for our time in Argentina and what cities we would be in and what dates.  Then I lost contact with her and didn’t hear back.

Mike and I left on our four month exploration of Latin America in June of that year.  When we made it to Argentina I simply sent Claudia one last message letting here know that we were in the country and again what our dates were and where we were going.

At 6:00am one beautiful day while we were getting ready to explore the city of Mendoza, Argentina the front desk called our room and told me that I had company.  Being it was 6:00am and I was in a foreign country I thought the front bellman had gone daft.  After asking me again if I was Florence Ricchiazzi Lince he confirmed that I indeed did have company.  Walking to the lobby the morning fog lifted and the only person I could even fathom was waiting for me was Claudia.  And there she was, in the lobby, with her husband and three of her children!  After seeing my note that we were in town they had driven over 6 hours to get from their home in Cordoba to Mendoza to spend the day with us. It was the first time we had ever met but we talked and talked and talked the day away.  What an incredibly warm and sweet family.  We had breakfast together and then spent the day at the Mendoza Zoo.  The kids had a wonderful time and by the end of the day they were calling Mike Uncle.  Our day in Mendoza, with family, is still one of the memories we cherish most from our many travels.

Me and my cousin Claudia. Can you tell we are related?

Me and my cousin Claudia. Can you tell we are related?

By the end of the day he was Uncle Mike!

By the end of the day he was Uncle Mike!

A family reunion in Argentina

A family reunion in Argentina

Mike no longer doubts me when I say I have family everywhere.  He just smiles and shakes his head and waits for the next 6:00am call.

Florence Lince