a Loved One
As I put my pen to paper I was instantly struck with the difficulty I was having in referring to my Dad in the past tense. His irascible, strong presence is still so vibrant, so alive. My Dad was a passionate man. He was passionate about everything. He worked passionately, disciplined passionately and loved passionately. He was a simple man with grand tastes and grand desires. He died quietly, in his sleep, next to the woman who shared his life...the good, the bad, and the ugly for fifty-three years.
I conjure a vision of my Dad, I see a beautiful man. Even just a few weeks ago, although visibly more frail,
he was still a very handsome man. His
chestnut brown, wavy hair of my youth, long ago replaced with silver white, gave
him an aura of sophistication. As he
proudly showed off his remarkable home improvements, the dichotomy of his
extreme limitations and his intense will to live, were astoundingly evident.
As I awed all the marvels of his endeavors, I couldn't help being struck
by the sheer will of this man...my Father.
He trudged his portable oxygen tank from room to room, sitting frequently
to reserve his modest energy.
great building and redesigning their home was to Dad, it was not his only
diversion. Much to Mom's chagrin
was his preoccupation with her domain: the kitchen.
He was always baking something, re-inventing old and still quite good
recipes...adding ingredients and leaving the remains of his art, everywhere for
Mom to clean. She would always eat
his over-sweet, and over-seasoned foods with tempered enthusiasm so not to
hurt his feelings. This boy-man, my
Father, was childlike in his last years...back to boyhood.
Perhaps the boyhood he never had. Later,
he would revel in his culinary delights and quickly add the recipe on his word
processor, saved and catalogued for all time.
reminded of his sense of humor. An
inner hilarity not always appreciated by those around him.
As I've grown and matured, it was my Dad's humor that I most enjoyed
about him. When we were here just a
few weeks ago, we took Mom, Dad, and Bonee to Outback restaurant one night for dinner.
Since it was still Passover, Mom and Bonee wouldn't be tempted to taste
the flour-dipped bloomin' onion or the hot sweet bread.
Luckily for Dad he wasn't within Mom's kicking range.
He turned down his hearing aid and with the gusto of a child out on the
town for the first time, he delighted in tasting everything.
I shall recall this moment with joy forevermore.
sharing a recollection with my sister, she told me another story:
A story about a black cat she named Midnight.
When Midnight had kittens, she had one that was just a shade lighter than
she; Dad called her 11:59!
Dad loved music, passionately. I
remember his treasured 78's of Frank Sinatra. (For those of you younger than
twenty, those are records) It was
my Dad who gave me, and my brother an appreciation for classical music.
It was my Dad that first played Madame Butterfly for me.
He'd sit, tell me the story, then he'd close his eyes and become one with
the music. I remember I enjoyed
mostly watching my Dad's revelry and animation.
later when Mom and Dad owned Plaktique, it was my creative and playful Dad that
added a woman to the last supper. My
sister tells me of a damaged cast of Mary that with each subsequent casting her
tummy got bigger and bigger until she looked quite pregnant. The humor would have been lost had she not become a huge
seller with customers calling and requesting "Dirty Mary".
Sunday I call home. It has been a
rare occasion for Dad to come to the phone.
His poor hearing made long distance talking prohibitive.
In growing up, Dad was always too busy, establishing security for his
family of four. Here I am,
forty-six, a breath ago a child myself, and I feel as if I barely knew him.
All my memories are as if watching them through a kaleidoscope in my mind's eye.
They are joyful and full of glee. I
remember the Christmas I discovered Daddy was Santa Claus.
I remember our house with the angled roof that Dad built.
I remember Dad teaching Mom to drive, I remember deciding right then and
there, that I'd never let a loved one teach me to drive.
I remember the long rides to Grandma's.
The even longer ride across the country from California to Bayonne. I remember his first business, fulfilling his dream.
I remember he typed 120 wpm on a manual typewriter.
I remember this talented gift kept him from the front line battles of
World War II. I remember the side
car carrier he created. I remember
all the so-many hospitals...all the death bed emergency flights home. I remember, as a little girl Dad adorning our mailbox in a
freestyle gothic script that all my life I've aspired to recreate.
I remember his exuberant temper. But
most of all, I remember I loved him, always.
It's hard now to recall anything that made me sad.
watched from afar as Mom and Dad entered their twilight years, growing still
closer. I'd see Dad out of the
corner of my eye reach over to Mom and kiss her hand.
It was always Dad that would reel her in, hold her close and say, "I
love you." Now that I
think of it I realize my own effusiveness comes from Dad.
All these years I thought it was just me, now I know better.
think what I inherited most was his passion...and that's not so bad.
sad that his grandchildren and great grandchildren have missed and will
forevermore miss all this amazing and wonderful man had to offer. I'll miss his eyes, full of love and compassion, his youthful
exuberance in building anything; I'll miss his saunter, I'll miss his
appreciation of the finer things, I'll miss his joy over a great bargain, I'll
miss his genius of things too numerous to count...of things wiser men study
years and still never grasp. I'll
miss the warm, tight grip of his hand intertwined in mine.
mindful, as I look out to all your faces that most of us haven't seen one
another since the last wedding or funeral.
It saddens me that worldliness and pre-occupation with self, and petty
thoughts, have kept so many of us separated and separate.
It would be nice if here, today, now, this moment, we could all draw
close, clutch one another's hand, and in Daddy's name proclaim love.
Remember the good, throw away the rest.
Daddy I love you so...you're with the angels now...show them how to fly.
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Copyright © 2001 Norma Sherry