Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers' Day

Happy Fathers' Day (or is it "Father's Day"?) to any fellow fathers who happen to read this.

I'll be honest--I miss my father terribly this morning, and think of him daily. He'd have loved, I think, how my children are growing up, and hopefully how I have been as well. I spent a lot of years rebelling against him, but with his death, that changed--I might be closer to him now (in behavior, attitude, habits) than I'd be were he still alive.

In particular, I've found myself embracing his cosmopolitanism. Dad had little use for anything "tribal," as he saw it; the world was so vast and various and interesting that to focus only on one's own little slice of it seemed perverse at best. When I was a boy, he and my mother went to India for a summer, and they took us kids to Israel, Greece, Jamaica, the Bahamas (or was it Bermuda? I can never remember), and of course Hawai'i, where we lived for four years. He kept a list of places around the world he wanted to visit--it was taped inside a kitchen cupboard, where he'd see it frequently. And, indeed, he worked his way down through it over the years. Only a few lines left, there, at the end.

(When my wife and I put up maps in our kitchen, of the US and the world, he loved it; he'd be even happier to hear the kids debating where they'd like to go for the next big family trip, once we get the money. My son likes Spain, or Chile, or Argentina--somewhere he can use his burgeoning Spanish. For my daughter, it's New Zealand. Vancouver seems the compromise; certainly it's the most affordable!)

He told me before he died that he'd always figured he'd die young, like his father and grandfather before him, which was why he did his best to get to all those places on summer breaks and such. "I didn't save anything for retirement," he said, "because I never expected to have one." And he was right.

Dad died shortly before the 9/11 attacks, at a time when the Bush presidency seemed a temporary annoyance, the country was at peace, the economy was strong, and his children (and grandchildren) were all settled, secure, and comfortable. I'm glad he missed the years that followed, although he'd have loved the Obama campaign and victory--and the fact that my older brother was an Obama delegate to the Democratic convention, as he had been for Michael Dukakis back in '88. (Dukakis? Yes--history repeating itself, the second time as farce: years before he had worked on the JFK and RFK campaigns, and we grew up in the '70s with a huge RFK poster on the wall.)

I don't think he'd appreciate my plan to stop reading the news all summer, but given how upset and obsessive I get about it, especially news from the Middle East, perhaps he'd understand. More on that in another post, perhaps.

For now...well, Dad was also a sports fan, which suggests to me that if he were alive this morning, he'd be watching the World Cup. So that's what I'm going to do, with a second cup of sweet black coffee and some rye toast. The kids are already downstairs watching, and once my wife finds out that the Scottish announcer is on, she'll probably join us. (Something about that accent she seems to like. All those years working on my Irish brogue, only to discover it was the wrong accent! Ah, well--something to work on in the next two decades of the marriage, eh?)

Zichron l'vracha--to remember him is a blessing.