Thursday, June 14, 2018

"My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me." Jim Valvano

This weekend will be Father's Day, and I will be thinking about my Dad, who left this earth in 2002.  A small but wiry man, Daddy was only 110 pounds, but he was so strong that his nickname was "Herk" for Hercules.  My brothers and I were afraid of our Dad when we were little; only when I grew up did I really get to see who my Dad was. Long talks in the living room and on the front porch when no one else was home allowed Daddy to tell me some things about himself that I am not even sure that he ever shared with my Mother.

Daddy's parents came to the United States from France.  The last name was Faltot (pronounced fell toe, but butchered by many as something else.)  They spoke French at home until my grandfather Faltot decided that they should become "American" and speak English everywhere.  Sigh.  (I took Spanish for 9 years, and wish I could have had French at home.)  Daddy said that fitting in as Americans was very important. 

Daddy never went to school beyond graduating from high school.  A practical man all his life, he had a way of assessing a situation or problem and inventing several possibilities for solutions.  "Can't learn that in college - just in the school of hard knocks", as Daddy would say. When I was in college for four years, Daddy would often ask me what I was learning in my classes.  Always excited to learn and teach, I would regale him with facts and hypotheses, book readings and poems.  I have written before about my father becoming an avid reader in his 60's when I was in college.  He worked so hard at reading that he was able to overcome severe dyslexia, which he explained to me as "the words making no sense and moving around."  I taught him the note card method of reading with a note card below (and above, if needed) the line of text, which enabled him to lose the swirling words.  Sometimes, if he had an especially tough time reading a lengthy sentence, I suggested he read it aloud for better comprehension.  Daddy loved all of James Michener's books - and Mr. Michener wrote some sentences that were several pages long - so this reading aloud strategy was particularly important to Daddy. Dad's reading difficulties were just between us.  My brothers and mother were never nearby when we discussed books or his reading issues.  I was so pleased when Dad told me he was reading so fast compared to the slow pace at which he started.  When I was a little girl, I would reread books several times, and Dad would sort of laugh about that and ask me,  "Why are you reading a book you already read?"  In his reading, years later, he discovered that if one read of a book offers enjoyment, several reads can offer even more learning and enjoyment.  I will guess that he read SHOGUN 10 times, and KING RAT more than 15 times.  He finally understood.

My father never really advanced too high in his job, but he was well-respected and an important figure as head of his department at Allegheny Ludlum Steel.  And he worked swing shift for 43 1/2 years - how could anyone do that?  8 to 4; 4 to 12; 12 to 8, all those years!  He took good care of his family and went to work whether he wanted to go or not.  My father gave me a great work ethic.

Dad disclosed to me on more than one occasion that he believed that his brothers and sisters fared better than he did.  I know that to be partially true, and it hurt me that he felt he had to compare bank accounts with them.  Old sibling rivalries die hard. 

There was a time when I was considering quitting college during my sophomore year.  I just wasn't happy, and I was so homesick.  Daddy told me he would support me in my decision, but warned me that staying home with "old dad" was not going to get me a career, and that quitting would be like shooting myself in the foot, so I never quit. Dad didn't talk a lot, but when he did, his words were thoughtful, well chosen, and to the point. He wanted me to become a teacher, and he was so proud on the day that I graduated from college. 

Sometimes, when he was really down, we talked about his mental illness and shock treatments during the 1950's; often we talked about his depression.  My father endured so many dark days.  I know he did not discuss his depression openly with my brothers or mother - they most always got dad's happy face.  I'm glad he trusted me to help lift his burden.

I miss talking to my dad.  I wonder what he would have to say about the rude world this has become, a world where people insult others to their faces on national television. My dad was a gentle soul who tried to work with others and get along, because for him, the whole was more important than the part.  Seems no one thinks like that anymore. He had good manners and would not say anything bad about another person.  My dad abhorred gossip. 

I am lucky that I had two parents who loved me deeply and believed in me. I miss them both.

Happy Father's Day, Daddy.  I will forever be your little girl, no matter how old I become.  

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. 

Rittman Publishing, LLC ®

Daddy with George, Brian, and me in 1960

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. 

Rittman Publishing, LLC ®

Please invite Grady Gets Glasses (and me) into your school.  if you are not in the Pittsburgh area, we do virtual field trips with a group called Field Trip Zoom.  GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 from The Authors' Zone. For more information about The Authors' Zone, please visit  

Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required readingSigned copies are available Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics. 

I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books.  Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self.  However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired! 

Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom.  Check them out! 

Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book.  I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading.  Please email me at  The website now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!

Please like Dede's new page Grady Gets Glasses for updates about her children's book. 

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