Father’s Day has always been special to me. First of all, celebrating my own father was so much fun. I would make him home-made cards out of construction paper, filled with glitter and a pipe-cleaner “father & daughter” walking hand in hand. I would complete the card with pink and red construction paper hearts, folded in half and opening up like butterflies with the words “I love you” and “You are the best Daddy in the world!”
Although he’s been gone for a long time, I’ve had the joy of celebrating another wonderful father for the last 40 years–my husband Ted. Without realizing it, he’s followed my Dad’s example by being an incredible father to our five children.
Adding more meaning to the day, my oldest daughter Emilee and husband Brian have two sons–Evan, who was born on Father’s Day 6 years ago, and Alex, who came home from the hospital on Father’s Day 4 years ago.
And now this Father’s Day we had even more to celebrate! In January our family dined at Ruth’s Chris in Clayton–a sumptuous meal of juicy steaks and seafood. Everyone was happy and the conversation was lively, or maybe it was just me cause I was the only one drinking.
I was going so typically overboard talking that I didn’t hear anyone order dessert. So I was pleasantly surprised to see a waiter walk in carrying a beautifully decorated chocolate cake.
Suddenly Bob stood and said “We would like to honor the newest Koplar that Sam & Ashley are expecting next September. (Ted and I had been gifted with this news a few weeks earlier, but were told to keep it a secret. Thus, we were startled that Bob had ordered a special cake to celebrate them.) They set it on the table, and the writing said: WELCOME BABY KOPLAR SEPTEMBER 2018. As we were all applauding, another waiter came in carrying what appeared to be a duplicate cake.
‘What’s going on?” Sam asked…..”there must be some mistake….we already have a cake.”
As the waiter put the second cake down, right in front of me, I could hardly take in the message. My foggy brain read: “WELCOME BABY KOPLAR AUGUST 2018.” Whaaaaaaat? I screamed!
Then I searched around the room. There was Bob’s mother-in-law and our dear friend, Lim-King Brady–I knew it wasn’t her–and I know it’s hard to believe, but I am beyond the baby-making age, so….the only other woman was……?
Oh, my God…..Emily? Really? Wow?! I was screaming and we were all hugging and could not believe our eyes and ears. Emily, our beautiful designer of the line Wai-Ming, who has been married over 8 years to our son Bob and had just bought him their first dog, “Khun-Jack”, was also expecting a little Koplar. Ironically, since brothers can be competitive, big brother Bob was going to be a father before his younger brother Sam! We all jumped up hugging and kissing and crying over the news of the “twin cousins.” And, if my husband, Grandpa Ted, looks daunted, he was! Ashley and Sam had surprised us a month earlier at another restaurant with the same exact cake: decorations and all.
Now two of the SAME identical cakes were before us, and it WAS DIFFICULT TO READ THE DATES…so, his confusion was understandable!!
As we left the restaurant, one of the best dinners of my life that I never tasted, I took another picture of the parents-to-be under the sign “Ruth’s Chris” and said: “Well, I guess although we don’t know the genders yet, we have the names!”
Both brothers called it a Rom-Com. The “behind-the scenes” story that they kept from us was that when Sam went to Bob’s office to reveal the secret that Ashley was pregnant, Bob asked when she was due. “September 10th!” Sam proudly stated. “Welllll…….” Bob, started slowly, “Emily is due August 17th!” In their double-brother-shock, they quickly conferenced in the girls, and Bob stunned them with: “I’m just calling to let you girls know you may be sharing a delivery room!” The epigram to all of this is that they had each (separately and unbeknownst to the other, and immediately on finding out their wives were pregnant) taken younger brother Kevin aside to share their good news with him, telling him,”You are the first to know! and, you musn’t tell anyone.” He was “mum,” even to his old Mum, and took his secrets back to Bangkok with him when he left in early January. Obviously, he was the first we called from Ruth’s Chris.
So this Father’s Day was really, as you can imagine, OVERBOARD with joy! And, the first to share all this excitement with us were our best friends and children’s “second parents,” Jack and Rosemary Galmiche, who were there when they were born. Yes, the Rom-Com continues, because Jack & Rose are just as romantic as the lovers who went overboard in “The Titanic“–and they feted us all with a Father’s Day dinner that would make Ruth & Chris hide their heads in shame.
Jack is a loving father to his own 4 fabulous children, who live on the East and West Coasts. Our St. Louis sons were lucky enough to be their stand-ins this Father’s Day.
Jack is to grilling what a fish is to swimming. He totally immerses himself in it. He spends hours the day before poring over his collection of hundreds of Grill and Sauce books, and those are just the ones he keeps in St. Louis. The other 500 are in Palm Desert where he grills for his family and friends several times a year.
It’s so fun to watch him work. You want to help, but it is like asking Monet if you can lend him a hand with his watercolor brush. He is a Master–and runs in and out, checking with his life’s love, his sous-chef, Rosemary–whose incredible Italian culinary skills come naturally to her. Her grandmother, Rosemary Failoni opened the famous “Failoni’s” on Manchester over 100 years ago. They are a dynamic duo–he outside sweating over the coals, and she inside, cool and crisp and pretty, preparing the vegetables and the salad and a buffet to make Martha Stewart jealous.
If it were me I would be a nervous wreck, asking everyone to “help themselves” to a glass of water. But Rose and Jack seamlessly man their bar, choosing each person’s favorite wine and refilling glasses in between turning over ribs and checking the perfectly tender chicken—all the while not missing a beat of the five conversations going on around them. Jack even had Ted’s favorite Riesling chilling in the fridge–the only wine he will drink. Never in our 43 years of marriage have I seen him drink more than one glass. Gosh, such self-control. Most women complain that their husbands drink too much, but I would love to see mine drunk–just once!
Well, maybe it’s better to have a teetotaler for a Grandpa if we’re going to be babysitting “twin cousins.” This is my dream come true. I have been wishing for a grandchild in St. Louis since our first granddaughter was born here over 10 years ago–and then ripped from my arms at age 2 months and hijacked to Chicago. We are fortunate to have 6 grandchildren now–4 in Chicago and 2 in New York. That’s a lot of traveling for Granny-Nanny.
But, back to Jack & Rosemary’s Father’s Day Feast. Jack did not stop at ribs and chicken. He also served the most tender lamb chops I have ever had, accompanied by grilled asparagus, Rosemary’s delectable spinach salad, and, my husband’s favorite, her twice-baked potatoes. To top it all off our daughter-in-law, Ashley, served the cake that won all our hearts: her moist and decadent pineapple upside down cake!
It was a treat for me watching my husband devour a meal of Jack and Rosemary’s gastronomic genius. After our youngest left for college several years ago, I closed my kitchen. No cooking shows for me! So poor thing has been living on his loving but simple wife’s cottage cheese and peaches, with an occasional shake n’ bake chicken for big celebrations. It’s no wonder he’s down 30 pounds to his high school football playing weight.
After being pleasantly sated, there was more going overboard as the Father’s Day gifts abounded, spilling all over the table. And Rosemary had adorned her emerald-green silk dining room with a picnic-themed red-checkered cloth & white hydrangeas sprinkled with red roses, reminiscent of Christmas.
The joy of Christmas in June certainly filled the air as the men took turns opening their very thoughtful and personal gifts. Jack & Rose stayed with the BBQ theme by donning both our new fathers-to-be with clever BBQ Aprons–apropos as they have been tutored for years by Jack in the “Art of the Grill.”
For my husband, who prefers dining out to grilling out, they had a juicy treat also: a heritage kit that you can see him “taste-testing” here. More later when the secrets of the Koplar grandchildren’s hidden heritage is revealed.
Sam and Ashley had just returned from their “baby moon” in Nantucket, where they bought me two dish towels with the famous words: “What happens at Nana’s Stay’s at Nana’s” (great insights for parents-to-be), and my favorite gifts of all: books to my husband and his future co-grandfather Paul Brady titled: “I Love you Grandpa” and “How to Babysit a Grandpa.” We already have “How to Babysit a Grandma” so we’re all set. Bring on those twin cousins!
Bob gave a poignant toast to Ted, for having the patience of a saint throughout his childhood. “He threw the baseball to me tirelessly, night after night when he came home from work. He wouldn’t even take his tie off,” Bob said incredulously. “I’d be standing with my glove in hand, tossing the ball as he came up the driveway. He started throwing as soon as he got out of the car. I couldn’t catch it to save my life, but Dad would never give up on me. He just kept on encouraging me.” Then Ted laughed, waxing on in his Bob Costas style “play-by-play”….
“There were two outs, and the bases were loaded. Suddenly I see Bob coming up to bat. I am so nervous for Bob I am about to have a heart attack. He swings and misses: Strike one! He swings again: Strike two!! The pitcher winds up with the third pitch, and I’m holding my breath, afraid to look, and I hear ‘CRACK’!!! Bob hits the ball so hard it goes way over the outfielder’s head–a Grand Slam!”
Spontaneously, as if we were there, we started cheering and shouting for Bob–and for Ted for his loving patience and belief in his son. We applauded for the joy Bob gave him on that incredible day and for the gift of reliving it again this Father’s Day.
It was truly a “Night to Remember” and Ted summed it up in his toast to our hosts:
“Everyone should be as lucky as Nancy and me, and the whole Koplar family, to have such wonderful life-long friends as Jack and Rose.”