My father, Al Maletsky
My father, or “Deed,” as my sister and I call him, refers to this honorary day as the “obligatory pound of flesh.” But lest you think I am getting out a cheese slicer and attacking my thighs, let me be quite clear: writing this blog is not a chore, it is a joy!
From a very young age, my father was one of those people who instilled in me a sense of passion about what I do. Being a perfectionist himself, he was one of those guys who pushed for excellence in everything. It was an interesting balance to my mom, who was much more of the “do your best and it will always be fine” type. Looking back, I think this was a good thing. I’m not saying that my Deed was never impressed with what I did; on the contrary, he was always proud of what my sister and I were able to accomplish. Still, he wasn’t one of those parents who was overly effusive with praise. And you know what? I think that was important to my childhood. It made me strive to achieve -- overachieve, in fact -- in everything I took on. It’s funny: I don’t think my Deed really cared about grades; it was what you did as a human being that intrigued him.
The thing about my Deed is that he’s constantly educating himself. He has a unique ability to take an interest in something he knows nothing about, and become an expert at it. I’ve seen him do it with softball (he single-handedly organized a church league that included uniforms and a whole training regimen), goldfish (he once performed fishy surgery on a beautiful lionhead who had gill rot or some such disease), koi ponds, bonsai trees (and the most amazing landscape gardening), photography (he and my mom had an entire closet turned into a darkroom, complete with the red light, enlarging machines, and clothesline with black-and-white photos dripping nasty chemicals onto the hardwood below), Harley Davidson motorcycles (we called him and my mom “Born to be Mild”), and most recently, Native American art and culture.
His attention to detail is awe-inspiring, and probably what made him so good at his job as a sculptor for the U.S. Mint. It’s true -- my Deed is responsible for some of the artwork you carry around in your pocket. He was the lead sculptor on many of the 50 state quarters you find in circulation, including the New Jersey quarter, with Washington crossing the Delaware, and Wisconsin’s “Happy Cow.” My Deed has a $5 gold coin in the Smithsonian that went up in one of the space shuttles and orbited the Earth. In the numismatic world, my Deed is a bit of a rock star!
Because of my Deed, I’ve never been afraid to tackle anything. Even if I don’t know much about something, I’ll research it, explore it, and make it happen somehow. I know that some people would say I’m biting off more than I can chew, and doing things in a more difficult way than necessary, but hey, I don’t see them doing the things I’m doing! The bottom line is that my Deed instilled in me the desire to achieve, and the advice he’s given me over the years has been invaluable. (Although I may not always follow it, like his “Hey, how about slowing down and taking one day off a week?”) My Deed has made me fearless, and I love him for that!