February 25, 1925

On Wednesday my dad would have been 84 years old. My dad died when he was 56 years old from a heart attack. I was 15 and a half. That was a long time ago. Nearly 28 years ago. Almost twice as long as I actually knew him!

My dad was born into a very poor Jewish family in New York city. He was born at home and the doctor used forceps to pull him out. My grandmother blamed this fact for my father’s terrible temper. Actually my dad was a “Good Guy.” He had lots of friends, some of them really close. He was generous, always helped people (even when they didn’t want it!) and was never proud enough to deny the suffering he had seen during World War II. He was never romantic about the war. He thought it was a horrible horrible thing and did everything he could to make sure my brother never joined the Military. Actually, he had the soul of an artist, stuck behind a desk as a tax accountant. He wrote poetry, acted, sang, painted, drew, did wood work, invented cool things, even made a matching mosaic coffee table and  curtains for our living room all before we were born. And he sat all day in a dingy, dark state office five days a week for 27 years. And on the weekends he sat in a basement office and ran my mother’s father’s insurance business. I don’t think the forceps were what made him angry. 

I don’t have a lot of positive memories of him. He sought (like any good father of the 1960’s and 70’s) to control his children with force. I also don’t think he realized how my mother’s emotional absence affected his children. We were needy and fearful and he wanted us to be independent and self sufficient. He seemed to me to be always battling with everything. I don’t think he was always like that, but I never really knew him as a person. 

I rarely miss my father. But I do sometimes wonder how things might have been different for me if he hadn’t died so young. Or if he wasn’t always so angry. I wonder what kind of grandfather he might have been. What him and my mom might have done with these last 28 years. There’s a lot of wondering there sometimes. 

Happy Birthday Dad!! I hope your next life was a more joyous one for you.


~ by nawor on February 28, 2009.

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