Sunday, June 19, 2011

Thoughts of Dad on Father's Day

By Fabian Bedne

Me and my Dad, when I was 13 
My father Samuel J. (“Mito”) Bedne was eighty-seven when he passed away last month. He raised a family, provided for us and a number of charities, and made his mark in Argentina.

Dad taught me that if you work hard, you can make things happen. He himself did it again and again, and even when awful things happened to us, he was able to carry on, get back up and reinvent himself.

His mother (my grandmother) had been a teacher in Russia before she escaped Communism and fled to Argentina, where she had to start over. At first she worked as a maid, and later she opened a little neighborhood grocery store. She was widowed early in life, which meant that my Dad had to help at the store since he was a kid. One of his regular errands was to pick up blocks of ice to keep the food in the cooler fresh. The ice was sold a mile away, and he carried those blocks of ice on his back.

Dad was a polio survivor, too. Everyone knew him as “Mito” - a nickname he inherited from the doctor of the same name who cured him of the disease. Dad’s limbs held out until a few years ago, when his right knee twisted in such a way that he walked with the bottom part of his leg at a fifteen-degree angle. Dad never stopped smiling and telling jokes, though, despite the pain. And he refused to use a wheel chair; he said if he did, he'd never get out of it anymore. Dad kept walking - and at a fast pace, too.

It was that way all his life. Dad never wondered if something could be done; he just did it. He and a number of friends founded a Lions Club in their neighborhood, and for thirty years they provided scholarships to students, donated flags and supplies to every school in the country that needed them, fed the needy and also carried on the Lions Club goal of helping people in need of eyeglasses. Many times we joined in as a family, and it made me very proud.

One of Dad's buildings
Despite never having finished high school, Dad did more than many professionals do in a lifetime. He had two businesses - a wholesale store and a construction company. The wholesale store was not just a business but a neighborhood institution. People stopped by all the time to visit or ask for advice, and Dad always made time for them. The construction company attracted investors and built many buildings, such as this one. In construction, Dad made his mark on both the city and on me.

I studied architecture because of my Dad. I loved to see his buildings flourishing from nothing, the jobs he created, the places that people would use when he was finished. I also loved to play on the construction site; the smell of concrete being poured still makes me smile. Everything I do now in my professional life, from neighborhood volunteering to home design, points back to him.

Dad was a loving and faithful husband and father for over fifty years. He was a hard worker and fast walker - a great role model. Every day, he made the world a better place for himself, his community, and his family.

On this Father’s Day, I cherish a friend’s condolence: “He’s not lost to you forever; he will always be with you… We are our parent’s children, they shaped us whether we realize it or not.”

To read more stories by and about Fabian Bedne, click on the Fabian Bedne link in the Index to the right.

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