Sunday, June 20, 2010

Let Me Tell You About My Father

Today is Father's Day. It's a bit of a harder day for me ever since my father was niftar.

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.


ProfK said...

A beautiful and moving tribute. And yes, it is still fathers day even if our fathers are not physically with us any longer. They live on in our minds and hearts.

BLD said...

Well done, a very fine man z'l.
Can you tell us more about his relationship with the Mitzvo of T. Shofar ?

Mystery Woman said...

Beautiful. Reminds us to show our appreciation before it's too late.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful encapsulation of his essence. When I think of him I always recall his simplistic, practical, down to earth but brilliant creativity (such as his triangular Seder plate and Sheva Brachos cards) based upon solid Torah sources. His quiet, unassuming manner devoid of any ga'avah totally belied his depth of mind and personality. He understood and practiced Syag l'chachma Shesika better than anyone.
Yehi Zichro Baruch.

G6 said...

@Anonymous -

It's a pity you chose not to identify yourself.

Your description of my father was even MORE beautiful than my own.

Thank you for your words.

To those interested in the triangular seder plate mentioned, see my post here.

G6 said...

@BLD -
I didn't mention the Tekias Shofar because I was going in this post for lesser known facts.
For instance, did you know that, with the halachic guidance of Rav Breuer, my father fashioned one of the very few Chalitzah shoes in use today?
He created it from nothing and even built a custom case to house it.

Jron said...

Sorry my post came out as anonymous. It was me Jron. I seem to be having trouble with the comment word verification.

cuzzin buzzin said...

that was so beautiful, and you really created a picture of your father that I recalled, and for a few moments I could imagine him smoking a pipe, telling a clever quip, and smiling. Thanks for sharing your beautiful memories with us. I can imagine that the pain of his not being here has not diminished with time, as people claim happens. Keep talking about him so your grandchildren can really feel they knew him well. Z"L

Shira at Table Poetry said...

I never knew your father and yet you managed to convey your great love and respect for him in a few short paragraphs.

What a wonderful tribute. Losing a parent is such a poignant loss, the void is unimaginable. And yet your post is not a sad one; your father's strength and joy of life shine through.

I can see by the comments above that your father left behind a vibrant legacy.

Leora said...

This is so beautiful. What a special relationship you had with your father. I am sure you will always treasure those memories.

I'm glad you are using Father's Day as a day to share him with us.

Anonymous said...

This evening, while looking up at a sky unspoiled by city lights, I was able to clearly see the tapestry of stars which hovers nightly above us. It was in that moment that I thought of your father and how (as you have related) he would star gaze with you in Tannersville and point out the various constellations. Though I never met him, I found myself missing his insights and cosmic commentary. How lucky you are to have such a memory, of not only a ‘father who knew something about virtually everything’ but of a daddy who took the time to show you and share with you the beauty of the world.