My father died 48 years ago today - at the age of 46. I'm now 61 years old.
It feels very different now to think of and memorialize my father. He died as a relatively young man and if alive would now be 94 years old.
It took me a long time to really grieve. When Dad died - at age 13 - I tried to: "be a man" and didn't cry at all. I moved rather rapidly then from a brief teenage rebellion to a very different role in our household. Probably coincidentally, school became increasingly easier for me in the years that followed and in various ways on the outside I became "more mature".
While I certainly miss my father to this day, my feelings are mixed because of how our relationship was. My father was rarely with me - in my space - on my schedule - where I wanted to be. He was very busy with his work and other obligations (and not). He wanted us to learn Judiasm and taught us a fair amount about what being a Jew was (in his estimation). He valued being Jewish.
I feel most badly that I wasn't a better father myself for my son Ben, now age 25. It feels like I repeated some of the major things that hurt me as a boy in being self-centered as a younger adult.
I'm very glad that my relationship with Ben has improved substantially over the past decade. Hopefully he will remember me in ways that have some happy thoughts and feelings.
I'm thankful that I've had the gift of life for 61 years. I'm happy to have good memories of my father and my childhood along with that which isn't so positive.
I cry now, as I often do, thinking back over many, many years in my life.
Dad - I'm sorry that you lived in a world - where "protecting others" such as me (and your friends and colleagues) from the feelings you had as well as a general denial of the realities of terminal cancer (and dying and death in general) was the norm - and that as a result you spent the end of your life in many ways emotionally struggling alone.
I'm sorry - that my brother Daniel - was forced to cope at age 11 without you. I'm sorry that our mother had to learn at age 34 that she would be a widow and three years later lost your loving relationship with your death.
I'm also happy to be a duplicate bridge player, perhaps not as good as you were, but not a bad player - something that you cherished. I'm happy in some ways to be a unique person, as you certainly were, though at times it can be difficult for me. I'm proud to believe strongly in the wrongness of Israeli and American Jewish opposition to Palestinians and a Palestinian State. You, similarly, were strongly opposed to the Vietnam War, while you died in 1964 - before Vietnam was a major issue in Indiana (where we lived) and the U.S. in general.
I feel blessed in many important ways. You gave me opportunities and helped me the best ways you could so many years ago.
It is sad to think back and to wish again that your life had not been cut short at such a young age.
Today - I remember. My tears are a blessing. Life is good. Thank you for all that you gave me.