I celebrate the life of my dad Francis Richard Sudol. My father lived by two rules in life 1) To tell it like it is and 2) To put family first. He was born during the height of the depression as an only child. His mother Nellie, emigrated from Poland in the late 1920’s. She married Frank Sudol the handsome son of a social club owner.
After the wedding, they moved into Frank’s parent’s home. Frank had trouble finding work in the 1930’s. It was Nellie who found employment with good wages shortly after the birth of her son. Richards parent’s dreamt of a family home of their own. Nellie felt enormously guilty and sad to leave her new born son in the care of her in-laws.
Richard Sudol would not have the stay-at-home mom to raise and comfort him during his childhood. Yet, his mother loved him dearly.
His parents focused on the present day happiness. They gave their very best in creating a Catholic American life for their child. Their church was the inspirational center of their lives. The Sudol family saw the importance of their religion and their church in raising a family.
It was providence that Richard would meet his soul mate Bernadette during church confirmation.
Bernadette was also an only child and that is was what initially bonded them together. They remained inseparably in love with each other from the time they meet at 14.
Richard and Bernadette married young, at the ages of 19, and 20. Bernadette’s father suddenly died of a heart attack when she was 19. Now Richard became the only man in her life.
At 24, Richard Sudol became both a parent and a new home owner. These two titles seemed to be a package deal.
My father also became a Mr. Mom to me in my preschool years. My mother went to work and he went back to school to learn the linotype printing business. This arrangement brought more time spent with my dad instead of my mom during my preschool development years.
It’s interesting when an only child raises a daughter. My father had no idea the differences of raising a girl from a boy because he did not have a sister. His grandmother and mother were not your typical female role models. My father raised me with little regard to my state of girlyness. This empowered me to believe I could be whatever I wanted to be – like a cowboy or a doctor. My dad would never say you can’t do that because you are a girl. In his own fantasy we could be whatever we wanted to be as long as we lived with him forever.
My father faced a new era of fatherhood when his only son was born in 1961. The birth of his son was also at a time when his career was very secure and promising. He moved his family into a small cape cod with a big yard and lots of open space. My mom finally got to be the stay at home mom.
Richard loved to take his family, on vacations to Niagara Falls and other northern treks. However, printing presses do most of their production at night. My dad was a night shift manager and that meant he was not there for after school occasions. He made up for his absence on Sundays when the entire family went to Sunday Mass. We had the traditional roast beef dinner together afterwards.
Just when Richard thought he would only be the father of four, he was surprised to be a father of another daughter at the age 37. This was also the decade when Richard and Bernadette found attraction in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire. My parents had thoughts of a recreational home or maybe a retirement place in the far off future. They bought their first recreational property on Faraway Road in Dalton New Hampshire.
They piled all the kids in the car and went for an 8 hour road trip to their newly owned campsite. Family camping was a very uncomfortable experience. I got up from the tent in early dawn because nature called, and my parents were afraid that I had been abducted. After that they stayed at motels. Nine years of visiting the family’s forest, Richard finally decided to buy a family cabin down the dirt road from his property that was for sale.
The family also moved into a bigger house in Bloomfield NJ and soon one by one his children would go off to college, get married and leave the big house that he bought to hold his whole family. This was a very hard concept for my father to accept – that his children would grow up and leave him. He told us how lucky we were to have a brother and sisters and that we should always stick together because we are a family.
Through thick or thin, good times or bad we became a family that stuck together. My father made this his core mission in life. However, his children would venture onward to a new path of their own. But, these ventures eventually brought new joy to him. His children added grand kids to the Sudol Homestead of two grand-daughters and two grandsons in alternating order.
Life was very good for Richard Sudol. At the age of 83, he remained stoic and in the present moment though his terminal lung cancer. Richard had all his children gathered in their favorite family White Mountain cabin before going home.