Dad’s death is hard for me to process, although I know he lived a long, good and rich life.
Sometimes, I resented Dad’s dementia and, therefore, him. I could have done things differently. I could have spent less time with Dad. But those were my choices. He did not set rules. But, while it was painful to see him decline, who else in the world could be as unabashedly thrilled to see his children?
He was a man who instinctively squared off his shoulders when we called him, “Dad”.
Sometimes, I groused. Sometimes, I had no patience (especially, when he wanted pancakes at the diner — my sister will have to guest-blog about that).
I am grateful for the weekend lunches. Even for having to run over to his apartment to reassure him when he was having an episode. For time just holding his hand.
I still cannot handle even the memories of the times trying to make sense of what he said. That pained me and shook the foundations of my world.
I am now mostly overwhelmed — when looking back — by the extraordinary nature of the ostensibly ordinary man who was my father. The man who would stand between Mom and us kids and any perceived harm. He always provided first for Mom and us, then for charity, then for the larger family, if necessary, and then, finally for him.
He yelled a lot when we were kids and misbehaved. (And, on occasion, he smacked us.)
Some years, I was not so sad that he had synagogue meetings at night, because Mom was day-to-day mush-ball. (Dad was the overarching mush-ball, as we found out in later years.)
And, sometimes, when we wanted something conspicuously consumptive, he raged because it pushed his emotional buttons. He came from nothing and we expected everything. (Now, I understand his point of view. . . .)
If any of us kids faced a serious problem, he would speak in a calm voice. He might give us a talking-to, or even worse with my brother (I think it is a father-son thing), afterward, but in the moment, Dad was right next to us, helping solve the problem.
When the “problem” was my being gay, it took him time to evolve (less time than for Mom). But Dad never wavered in his love, although the early years were painful.
His every day started with an optimistic lift in his step. When I was in elementary school, he would walk me to school. On the way, he would hold my hand and our arms would swing. And, he would talk about the great things to come that day, the rest of the week or the upcoming weekend. The great things were the perfectly ordinary things in our lives — family dinner, going to our house in the country, or having a Blogger clan event.
Going to our house in the Berkshires only sounds good in retrospect. We were freezing until Sunday morning when the house finally warmed up. And then it was time to start packing up!! (My parents got smarter a few years into owning the house and paid someone to turn on the heat on Thursday night.)
In later years, Dad was a sculptor. He called it his second profession. Shortly after Mom died, our son was 6 months old. Dad’s next sculpture was of two women and a child. He wanted his art to reflect everyone in his family.
It was not a great piece. It looks like two women with three breasts, but my father wanted to express his love in his chosen medium.
TRUTH SQUAD ROUND UP:
The Truth-O-Meter says:
1. Hey, Blogger, you had a normal father-daughter relationship.
2. Hey, Blogger, stop being a cry baby. And P.S., if you were roses, you had out-sized thorns.
3. Your Dad was an ordinary man with an extraordinary capacity to love.
4. Hey, Blogger, you can’t go wrong if you try to be like your father.
5. Hey, Blogger, you are tough to handle. And your son will only appreciate you when you are too old to enjoy it. Welcome to life.