My father’s best quality was dependability. His job could depend on him to be there (on time) every day (regardless of sickness or pain), and we could depend on him to provide for, and support our family (I don’t ever remember him being unemployed).
He was also self-reliant and thrifty. My father constantly looked for ways to stretch his income. He made sure we shopped at bulk discount stores for clothes and food; he repaired and maintained his own vehicles, and he saved every penny from his temporary part time cab driving job (so that we could afford to move out of the projects in Manhattan, and into a home on Long Island).
In addition, he was very bold. One day, when I was in the 4th grade, I wouldn’t stop talking in class. My teacher (one of the nuns at Saint Lucy’s) decided to discipline me. She took me into the bathroom, raised my skirt, and paddled me with a ruler. I went back into the classroom, and did not speak for the rest of the class period (mostly because of embarrassment). That night, I told my father what had happened. The next day, he went to the school, boldly went into the principal’s office, and raised holy hell. I realize that this memory doesn’t showcase a positive quality, but in that moment, I remember feeling protected, and cared for.