My father's 9th yahrzeit is coming up on Rosh Chodesh Av.
Since I can't send my Dad a card today, I figure I'll tell you all a little about him and that will make me feel better.
First off, let me say that those of us unfortunate enough to have lost our fathers want you to know that there is so much more to our fathers than what others remember. We wish you could remember the whole person, but of course you cannot.... because he wasn't your father.
My father was one of the smartest, gentlest and honestly internally frum men that I've ever known.
My father was torn from his parents arms at a young age in order to "save" him. He was transported to England with many other German children of that time and celebrated such milestones as his Bar Mitzvah alone with his brother. He later traveled to America and resided with non-frum relatives while he went to work. Through ALL THIS, he remained steadfast in his practice of yiddishkeit and his emunah. What a STRONG upbringing he must have had at such a young age in order to hold him for so many challenging years on his own.......
My father knew something about virtually everything. You could start a conversation about anything and he could talk knowledgeably with you on the topic and likely impart a bit of wisdom on you that you'd never heard before. He felt very strongly that children should not be "taught for the test" and that the only true exams would be those taken six months after a course ended. He prided himself on still remembering everything he had learned in his college Chemistry class (he was an English major). I still remember that even in his last days he was instructing his nurses in the hospital that the chemotherapy drugs he was being administered also happened to be a component in rat poison. On the day of his petirah I felt like I'd never learn another thing for the rest of my life. We always thought he should go on the game show "Jeopardy". It's kind of ironic that his own grandson ended up on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire"....
My father was also incredibly warm. He wasn't overly demonstrative in public but he was a teddy bear. He loved his children and we knew it. Nearly every Sunday of my youth he made time to take us on an outing (yes, many were a bit overly educational, but boy do I appreciate it now).
He was the best chess partner I ever had and he never "let me win". A compliment from my father *meant* something because he was honest and was a man of few words. By the same token an admonishment from my father truly meant something as well, because my father seldom interfered and if he said something on a very rare occasion, you knew that this must be something he felt very strongly about.
My father was a very peaceful man, eschewing involvement in any and all machlokes. How appropriate that he was niftar on the same day as Aharon Hakohen....
Though he is no longer with me to accept my (likely humorous) card with a chuckle (that I can still hear in my head nine years later), which would likely come with a free backrub (he trained his children young ;) ), I can still recount these bits and pieces and smile.
Thanks for listening.
Thanks for helping keep the gloom out of my Father's Day.