Sunday, June 20, 2010

the Good Father

It’s Father’s day and is there a reason why we celebrate this day, beyond the fact that it is good for the card industry. Yes, there are reasons and I will give you three (there are more but space is limited.)

Milton Groman, my dad. Milty was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when he was in his twenties and my mom was pregnant with my brother (also a good dad), who is six years my junior. It was a frightening time for the entire extended family because my dad, who wanted to be a fur designer, realized that he could no longer pursue his dreams. Instead he would have to find something else to do while he watched his body degenerate. There was no cure, and in those days, no hope that anything would get better. Dad worked in the family handbag business. First as a salesperson in the New York show room. (He looked like a movie star so he made lots of sales). Then as it became harder and harder for him to get around – first one cane then two, then a walker, and finally a wheel chair, – he worked in the handbag factory as a supervisor and finally, a clerk. We always thought we needed to be grateful for the family financial support but in fact, we all needed to be grateful for the gift of my dad. Not only was he determined to be a well person, (no one ever described my dad as sick – he simply couldn’t walk).
But through all the disappointments in his life, he maintained a strong sense of self and a wonderful sense of humor. My most treasured memories are about the things we did together. Running with him on the beach. The little box of Valentine’s Day candies he brought me every year. The laughs we had watching silly TV programs and even when he spanked me. He couldn’t walk, and was losing the use of his hands, so I had to stand where he could reach me, and he had to struggle with trying to smack my tush. It was not physically painful but it was emotionally devastating and we both cried so hard, I vowed I would never be naughty again. (I was, but there was never another spanking, and we never mentioned it again.) He couldn’t take us to amusement parks or horse back riding, but he taught us patience, independence, a desire to consider it a success when we did the best we could, a determination to follow our dreams, the ability to empathize, a desire to help people who couldn’t help themselves, and most importantly, kindness and humor. Dad couldn’t, (as one doctor told us when Dad had one leg amputated) ambulate. That doctor was a moron – he couldn’t see dad as a whole person –we never saw him as anything else. He was a wonderful dad, and granddad, lucid and entertaining, til the day he died. He has been gone for 24 years and I still miss him every day.

David Burnett, Jordan’s dad. All you have to know is that during the Gulf War in 1991, David decided not to go and instead stayed home a built a doll house that Jordan, (a mere 5 years old), just had to have. He tells that story when people ask him if he has any pictures of the Gulf. Not that anyone has any pictures of the first Gulf war, and truthfully, the only good that came out of that war was Jordan’s doll house, but he made that decision because first, he has always been devoted to her. And second, she didn’t want him to be in any danger. They have always had a special relationship. She adores him and thinks he may be the funniest person she has ever met. They speak the same language, they often finish each other’s sentences and she (unlike her mother) is willing to listen to his “Salt Lake Stories”, no matter how many times he tells them – they are not short stories. When Jordan moved to LA she needed to have her car so they drove across the country. They were on the road for 8 days, they were in an enclosed space, neither of them felt well (in addition to which she gets car sick), there was no kicking and screaming, no, “don’t make me stop this car”, in fact, they never had a cross word. We had a family rule that no one could be away for more than three weeks, so even when she was in college, we were never apart for more than five or six weeks. They wanted to spend some quality time together before she moved. Before she started her life as a grown-up – sans on-site parental supervision. Father/Daughter relationships are often complicated and always have a permanent impact on the child. David has always been there for her. He has imparted her with unconditional love, a sense of self, inner strength and a personal comfort level that no amount of money could buy. She is a lucky girl.

Seth Jacobson, Zak and Rosie Jean’s Dad. The first time I saw Seth with his children I was truly amazed by the amount of love and patience he demonstrated. Seth, whose parents divorced when he was six, has always been cautious about any overt/public expression of affection. But not anymore. He is simply brimming with adoration for his beautiful kids. Yes, they are adorable, but it goes well beyond physical beauty. He is deeply and passionately proud of every achievement, whether it involves a puzzle, a painting, playing an instrument, finishing a meal, overcoming some distress, or even sharing a joke. It’s wonderful to see it. Last night they put a tent up in their new backyard. (Seth always had the “fort” gene.) They built a little campground and hung a sign that said, “Welcome to Camp Jacobson”. Hanging out with the children is what he wants to do when he has a choice about the way he spends his free time. How lucky he is to have learned that his family is a priority – most of us don’t find that out until we’re are listing regrets. And they are truly lucky children to have parents who love them unconditionally, who like them without apology, and for whom they will always be first on any list of his accomplishments. We’re just sayin’…. Iris

1 comment:

MJ said...

Enjoyed reading this much important "stuff" (life stuff) in it.
Thanks for sharing.