My father would have been 100 today and rarely does a day go by that I don’t think about him. He died at age 64 when I was 33 and I have felt as though I was cheated out of his presence for many years.
He was probably the most influential person in my life. Growing up I didn’t always agree with him as he was very critical of me…..but in hindsight I realize that he only wanted the best for me, just didn’t go about it quite in a way that was easy. I was an overweight, taciturn child and when he criticized me, I would just retreat further into my shell.
Since we lived in a small town and he was the town’s physician, life was very busy and not easy, and moments of peace few. We never took vacations. He had a great love of books, nature, and classical music. He would often take up a hobby and pursue it to perfection and then go onto something else.
He was one of the first joggers, running before it became a craze. He also loved all sports. His final job before he retired was as a school physician for a private school, which was right up his alley, as he could attend all the athletic events.
My daughter was the first grandchild (my sister’s daughter was born the spring of the year he died) so she was the only one able to benefit from his great love of children. The photo above, taken when he was in China during the war, is so fitting of his personality. He would have been very interested in my niece’s adopting a little Chinese girl.
He would not have dealt well with the present state of the medical world…..the bureaucracy alone would have done him in. I always remember when April 15th rolled around we were told to leave him alone as he had left the taxes until the last minute…cannot imagine how he would have handled the Medicare/Medicaid situation.
I still feel his presence on my morning walks, when he whispers in my ear when I take too long a shower, when it is a beautiful day and I am not out enjoying it. I think this poem by Robert Mazzocco, Dynasty, is so fitting.
Family voices; you still can hear them,
Ever so dimly, there in your own voice:
Your father’s voice, even your mother’s voice.
The older we get,
The more you’ll hear them,
Though no one else does.
Just as you still can see them, all over
Your body, though, of course, no one else must:
Family scars and family kisses.