Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day--Remembering my Dad

he died in 1994, and there is not a day passes that i don't think of him, and miss him.  he had flaws, god knows, and my brother Warren and i speak of them often.but mainly we speak of the enormously good things about him, and one of us ends up saying, 'i'm just grateful he was my father.'  this is a picture from the 1950s, maybe early 60s, when he was a model ['a male model??" people would ask in amazement, and i would try not to snap, 'no, he's a female model, can't you see?'' his disliked modeling, having chosen it  to pay for the acting jobs he kept trying to get, and kept with it because you don't change professions with a wife and 3 young kids to support.  but he'd likely have hated anything else even more: at least this wasn't 9 to 5, every day, five days a week.  and it's hardly a coincidence that warren and i both ended up as freelancers.  pop was the one who first helped me try to understand human evil, and though no activist himself, his compassion for people was my first step toward activism.  not because it was 'politics,' but because it was about human beings, it was about caring.  once when i was very young we were at the beach, and some teenage kids had dragged out of the water a very large but harmless fish, and were beating it with boards that had nails in them.  i was horribly shy, but too upset not to confront them, screaming at them and crying.  they laughed at me, and pop gently pulled me away.  'you shouldn't interfere, they might try to hurt you,'' he said softly, but the tone in his voice and look in his eyes were pure pride.  his little girl was fighting for justice, even toward a fish being tortured.  he loved that i joined the civil rights movement, the anti war movement, the women's and gay movements.  having been in theatre, he had a lot of gay friends who became family friends, beginning when we kids were too young to know about sex and which kind was 'good' or bad.' i somehow understood that these men were couples like mom and pop, or single friends with specific personalities, so by the time i learned about homosexuality it seemed pretty routine to me.  my brother keith one day in the car said something about 'faggots,' and pop stopped the car, turned around to keith, and said, very softly and calmly, 'you do know when you use that word you are talking about uncle walter and ti and paul and other people you love.'  keith looked startled, and that was how he learned about homosexuality.  he also introduced me to P.G. Wodehouse novels, and to reading as a pleasure: he would often stop off at a charity place called the Opportunity Shop in Manhattan, and pick up second hand books for himself and for me.
this was meant to be brief, and yet it seems only a tiny bit about this man who shaped my life and beliefs.  but i do hope he is somewhere now where he knows his kids still love him, and dream of him, and know that if there is an afterlife we'll find him there, and all will be well....

3 comments:

Jim Lehmer said...

"And all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well."

Ah, Julian of Norwich.

Nice piece. Made me want to know your father.

Ken Goldstein said...

Beautiful piece. Thank you for sharing this bit of your father with us.

karen lindsey said...

thanks, jim. i think you'd have liked him. and i hope julian is right!

ken, this must be a hard fathers day for you. i hope he is 'with you' today.