This is a post I originally wrote for Studio 30 Plus Magazine
Do you remember when you asked me if you should shave half your moustache? And I looked at you as if you were crazy because frankly….and asked you why?
“So that the people who knew me before will recognize me when I get up there and so would the people who knew me after.”
My genius father who went to NYU on two scholarships–one math and one basketball; who was born in a tenement without a bathroom and made it all on his own–was very capable of asking questions such as the above and meaning them. I told you only if you wanted to look like an idiot while on this earth and you accepted that.
Unlike the time you told me Blechman was doing a series of MTV ad’s about real people and had asked you to be in one.
OMG, that’s frigging incredible. Can I come watch?
Uh Pia what’s MTV? This was in the mid-80’s.
It’s a TV station that only plays rock videos.
No, Pia, that’s impossible. Maybe it plays rock an hour a day.
It is possible and true. Look at rock radio. Why am I having this conversation?
You refused to believe me. Though being in the commercial was one of the high points of your professional career as a CPA! And who knew he would turn out to be right about MTV.
You loved it when The New York Times called you an incredible example of a middle aged professional. As you were 70+ the words “middle aged” rang like music through your ears. I did have to point out that you brought us up never to trust anything we read in a newspaper, especially The Times.
Your birthday was 20 years ago today. We went to an Italian restaurant in The Village you had gone to, as a student, so many years earlier. That weekend we went to Long Beach to see your Aunt Ann. “Where’s the girls?” “They’re right here. “Where are the girls?” “Next to us. Say hello to Aunt Ann.” We must have said hello 25 times. It was hilarious in an only a family way. Afterwards we went to an upscale Southwestern restaurant in Island Park where a man asked permission to draw you. He didn’t even know you were an MTV late night staple!
The Academy Awards were on March 25th. I was working for Social Security and had to get up at five AM. You called and couldn’t understand why I said I was going to sleep early. Screw the Academy Awards for once. You didn’t like TV but had this weird thing for “historic events” and the Academy Awards was history in your mind.
The next morning was your wedding anniversary. Mommy said you did what you did best and bitched about Kevin Costner winning too many awards for Dancing With Wolves at breakfast. Then she got ready to go out and you went down to your desk. She called your name to say good bye and you didn’t answer. She found you slumped over your desk. Five days later you died.
Thanks for those five days. If there really is an up there and you and mommy have reunited you know that ten years later she went suddenly, and I never had any last words. No arguing over stupid Academy Awards. No seeing her lying peacefully in her hospital bed. Actually when you were in yours, mommy said “he’s lying like a lox,” an expression Elka and I found much funnier than it should have been.
I miss you daddy. I miss you more now than I did then. I didn’t have time to mourn. Life was too busy. Mommy was getting older, and well I guess we mourn on our own timetables. Though yes if I had taken the course you wanted me to take with you when I was 25–Elizabeth Kubler Ross on Death and Dying at The New School I would have known more. But what 25 year old girl takes a class with her father? This one, much older now, regrets not doing it in a lackadaisical it would have been nice manner. But I took classes to meet boys and you would have been in the way. We had dinner before school. Afterward you went to your poker game, and never asked where I, your almost divorced daughter was going. A father knows he doesn’t want to know details. And I thank you and love you even more for letting me be me.
You were my friend daddy. Before it was common for parents and children to be friends I had the incredible honor and privilege of having two wonderful parents who lived to drive me crazy but also lived to find “nachas” (joy in Yiddish) in me. I thank you for always being there. For never giving up. For knowing that I was more than the sum of my parts. And if I didn’t always do everything perfectly well daddy, who did?