My father’s son

My brother Sam, my mother and my father, 1972.

Today is my father’s yahrzeit. He died 13 years ago, on September 15, 2003.

My memories of him, years later, are bittersweet. Fathers and sons, the old story.

He was flawed, of course. (Who of us isn’t?) He had a temper. He didn’t take good care of himself, an issue that led to his premature death from diabetes. (He was 65.) He could say cruel things, which made me uncomfortable and occasionally angry. He wasn’t very introspective and was dismissive of my suggestions to try it once in awhile. I sometimes got the feeling that he wondered how his intellectual, sensitive, cautious son could have been the fruit of his loins.

I miss him.

I miss his big, booming, unconstrained laugh. I miss his playful jokes. I miss the feeling of riding on his shoulders. (Forty-plus years, and I can still feel his warmth — and see his pate of wavy, slickened, thinning hair.) I miss talking baseball with him, even about Bob Porterfield, Bob Cerv and other minor stars of the 1950s Yankees whom he idolized and I knew nothing about. I miss his obvious joy in the family pets. (The only time I ever saw my father cry in my presence was when he recounted putting our dog to sleep. I cried, too.) I miss his unspoken honesty and ethics. I miss his complaining about me and my brother Erik trying to hide his cigarettes on family vacations. (He did quit, finally.) I miss his modeling of civic engagement – Kiwanis and Junior Achievement and volunteer tax services – and willingness to cut the grass.

I lament that he didn’t get to see my wedding, or my brother Sam’s children.

I find that in blogs, and on social media, there are seldom critical things said about loved ones. I understand the protective and even tender reasons for doing so. But love is complicated stuff, and sometimes those things are so careful, so Pollyanna, they strike me as crap.

So I remember you, Dad, and I love you, flaws and all. Zichrono l’vracha.


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