My father, Francis X. Desmond, died in April 1965.
I was ending my freshman year in college.
This is the first time in my life I have ever written something for public consumption about him. My feelings about my relationship with my father have been too complicated to think about letting strangers take a look.
My father grew up in Milton. He graduated from Milton High in 1939. His mother was widowed but left with enough of a support system that she maintained two households. They summered in Marshfield.
It was a different society then. My father’s three brothers all went to college. But he went to work for the telephone company after high school and then went on to serve in the Army in the days of World War II.
He never talked much about his time in the war. Whenever he was asked about it, he’d turn the conversation in a different direction.
He had married my mother just before boot camp. When he returned from the Army, they lived with her parents in a tiny home on Pleasant Street. I have no idea how the two couples were able to co-exist in the house. I was six months old when my parents got their first apartment near Central Avenue. I’ve always been attracted to small living spaces. I guess that’s my history.
My father served as a Town Meeting member in Milton. He would wear his suit and go off to the Annual Town Meeting. He was proud of his contribution.
Even after all these years, I can see him in my mind. He was a solemn man. He worked overtime often to support his family. He (and one of his cousins) built the house my family lived in during my school years. He added to the house twice.
He had been brought up in the Catholic faith and never questioned it, never missed a Sunday Mass, never ate meat during Lent, always ate fish on Friday.
He lived by values he never questioned.
His simple faith defined him.