Tough Days

I’m alone a lot.  Lots of time to think, to remember.  April 8, far away, the day my mother died.  Tomorrow, November 21, is the day my Dad died.  I was holding his hand, trying to give comfort and love and support for him to ease his pain and let go.  I was very lucky.

I was lucky to have a father like Leo.  I never thought of him as Leo.  He was Dad, Daddy, Pop, my best friend and my pal, and my support and my partner and my rock, as my friend Fran described her husband.  He was everything that anyone could ever want as their father, a terrific guy who was liked by all, loved by many, and cherished by me.  It will be 29 years since he died and I missed him almost every single day of those years.

I talk to him even now.  I wanted him to meet my wife, to see how this time I picked a really fine, special woman.  They would like, even love, Kim Lien.  I know this, and I take comfort in it.

There’s a lot on TV now about Kennedy, John F, and his assassination 50 years ago on November 22, 1963.  The day after my Dad died 21 years later.  I know where I was when both happened.  I know exactly.

It does not ease the pain. 



2 thoughts on “Tough Days

  1. I’m with you, bro. My dad is a daily companion, too. For the first year after he moved on to where ever, he was driving behind me almost daily. He remains a touchstone for me in making judgments and an exemplar in how to treat others (but, alas, one I think off too often in retrospect). My mother was there with many of the Jewish-mother stereotypes, most of which are motivated by love, concern, and care. My most treasured memory of her, surprisingly, was of when I was probably five or younger and quarantined at home after Doctor Wolf’s home visit diagnosed mumps or German measles. For three days she let me recuperate in her and my dad’s big double bed with her seated next to it playing the kids’ card game, “war,” never showing what had to be crushing boredom.

    I remember my father staying awake with me at the kitchen table for four or so hours after my sixth-grade bedtime working with me until after midnight I finally “got” long division.

    When I was in my late teens or early 20s, he apologized to me, the only passenger in the car, when under his breath he muttered that the driver who cut him off at Peterson and Western was a shmuck. His apology shocked me; as a teen my friends and I used it daily, if not hourly.

    When I was in my 40s or 50s, he told me he was sorry he’d vetoed my dream to have spent a year after graduating high school bumming around Europe. He’d come to understand that it not only would have broadened my perspectives, but perhaps left me mature enough to successfully get through college in fewer than eight years for my B.A.

    And I was proud of my mother’s support for Obama from the start. When we lived in Albany Park and West Rogers Park — basic Jewish-American ghettos — she continued to broaden her acceptance of others’ rights to hold differing views, despite growing paranoia until her expiration at 96.

    I tried sharing these thoughts with you sooner when I read of your pain, but I don’t think my iPad and WordPress were sufficiently copascetic.

    Hang in there, tough though it is. I feel your pain and know it will help you understand our cockamamie existence so far.

    • Like I said in the last email, I just came from (watching) the memorial service for my cousin, a joker and fresser of the 1st degree. Now I understand why we have memorial services. Not only was this a transition from deepest sorrow to smiling remembrances for me, but while listening to his son and grandchildren remembering him, I learned new stuff and recalled much of what they described, because he was a part of my life too. It really eased my pain and I recall a lot of stories about him and with him that make me laugh again. I am happy I got up to attend, to watch the live feed from Shalom Park, to be there to say goodbye and to be comforted by all the affection and love I saw this day.

      Pastrami is good, Tongue is better, but turkey is best and I have ordered a cooked turkey dinner for Thanksgiving and we even have an American/Israeli guest coming for dinner to share the feast! Vietnamese do not like turkey (too much meat, too few bones, too dry and a new and different taste. With all their varieties of food here, they are not at all adventurous or willing to try new stuff. I had better success with my nephews who have moved to America from HCMCI barbecued some ribs on their new, virgin gas BBQ, showing them how to cook on the three burner Charmglo.

      Everyone loved the ribsespecially since they were the only thing to eat besides the corn on the cob.


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