Thursday, July 11, 2013

What My Father Taught Me

Today marks my father's 18th yahrzeit.  Ironically, his "chai" yahrzeit.

My father was smart, funny, and kind.  He abandoned his dream of becoming a pharmacist when his father became ill and could no longer run his grocery store and support the family.  My father took over the store and the rest is history.

But he loved that store - mostly he loved the people.  Making people happy made him happy. While my mother was the business brains of the operation, he and she together made it a place people felt at home and cared about.  Now that's a skill that one doesn't see very often anymore.

My father gave me his flat feet, his facial features, his sense of humor, and most importantly, his passion.  And his passion for Torah and for being a Jew most of all.

When I joined the Jewish Defense League in the late 1960s, he was proud - he was worried, but he was proud because I was standing up and fighting for something.

As my father got older, I was the only child in the house, and this was the time he became more and more devoted to religion - he started attending a Daf Yomi shiur, for example.

I figured I'd use this space (haha, I can write about whatever I want!) to remind myself and everyone else of what he taught me:
  • Always let guests know that they are doing you a favor by being a guest in your home - you get to honor them and make them comfortable.
  • If you get invited to a simcha, it's sinful not to go.  We have to enjoy these things and make the people who have something to celebrate know we are happy for them.
  • Never take anything that doesn't belong to you - he berated me once for using a pen that I had taken from my office.
  • Smile at everyone - you never know whose day you can improve by giving them a warm smile.
  • Be passionate - fight for what you believe in and don't give up.
  • Sing [we are Leviim] - and let music move you.
  • Honor your parents - do whatever it takes to care for them.
There's much more, but that's enough goop for now. One of my strongest memories is of him standing in the kitchen in the evening davening Maariv.  He'd be so tired after waking up at 4 am to go to the store, that he'd sometimes fall asleep on his feet.  It would take him 30 minutes to finish davening.  My mother would ask me to sit there and watch him and make sure he didn't fall over.

 Needless to say, I miss him every day and think of his smile and warmth often.  I think how sad it is that he didn't get to see all of his great-grandchildren and enjoy the accomplishments of his grandkids.  He died at age 75, and I think it was, more than anything, of a broken heart after losing my mother 5 years earlier.

Miss you, Dad.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful tribute, may his neshama have an aliyah.