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June 22, 2015 | Volume 90 Number 17


A Father’s Day story

The annual celebration of Father’s Day on the third Sunday of June obviously brings to mind the role of our Dad in the traditional family combined with both sad and funny stories of family life in which the father played a major role.

This brings to mind the story of John Karaffa Sr., now a great-grandfather, who made many sacrifices so he could provide a better life for his wife and four children while they were living in a small house in northern New Jersey back in the 1950s.

Much like it was in the days of Ozzie and Harriet back in the ‘50s, the father was the breadwinner and the mother stayed home, cooked and washed and minded the children while their father was at work. But the Karaffa family, who had built their own small home, had financial struggles and Mr. Karaffa not only took a second job, but also decided to begin college classes so he would eventually get a better-paying job to support his family.

Both he and his wife wanted their children to know that it was going to require sacrifice from all of them if the plan was going to work. There was no opposition from anyone and so Mr. Karaffa began a daily schedule which seems to be extremely arduous.

Getting up each morning and being at work by 8 a.m., he worked a full day, then took a bus home where dinner was waiting on the table the minute he walked in the door. Mrs. Karaffa had it ready and remembers even blowing on the poured coffee so he could drink it before 20 minutes elapsed and he had to be out the door headed for night classes. He became a full-time student.

With the college a half hour from home, Mr. Karaffa attended classes of 12 credits four nights a week from 7 to 10:30 at night. When he walked in the door at 11, he immediately went to the unfinished basement so he could study.

“I felt it wasn’t right for me to go to bed while he was studying so I would do ironing and other chores until he finished,” Mrs. Karaffa recalls.

With his presence away from home most of each weekday, the family devised ways to maximize their limited time together.

“There was always order in the house,” Mrs. Karaffa said. “I would tell the children ‘Go and meet your father at the bus stop,’” and they did. If he came home earlier, they met him at the door when he arrived.

On the weekends the family all worked together as a team in running errands and doing household chores.

In the end Mr. Karaffa graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University with honors. His family was there to cheer him on. The family eventually moved to Richmond where doors were opened to a better-paying job. They later moved to Staunton where they have long been members of St. Francis of Assisi Parish where both husband and wife have long served as lectors and in other parish roles. All four children are active Catholics and there are now 12 grandchildren and multiple great-grandchildren.

The role of the father in a family is an important one. Here’s one success story of how a father’s sacrifice for his family paid off.

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