Today I have yahrzeit for my dad. It’s been seventeen years since he departed this earth, in his mid-forties. It’s just always such a strange day for me. It’s hard not to wonder about what might have been. My folks were divorced since I was a little kid, we stayed in England, and my dad ended up living in Monsey, NY at the time of his passing. Small world. As I have written before, we didn’t have much of a relationship. I spent much of my teenage years angry with him, blaming him, not wanting to see him. I guess much of that is typical for a girl of that age dealing with those issues.
I spent his last five weeks with him. I’d like to feel that, even though he wasn’t conscious, we made our peace with each other. However I do feel cheated. I never got the chance to talk to him as an adult. He never got the chance to walk me down the aisle, or to hold any one of his 15 grandbabies. He never got to experience his kids as grown ups and to shepp nachas from us. He lost out, big time.
My dad was married twice and had 5 kids. I was from his first marriage and the only daughter. From everything I have read little girls are supposed to have a bond with their daddy, be daddy’s little girl. I never had that and I feel that I missed out. What would that have been like, I often wonder. I would listen to songs like Butterfly Kisses and cry because I hadn’t had that. It hurt. Perhaps my Dad couldn’t relate to the girlieness as he was so surrounded with boys. We didn’t really have girls in the family. I was the first on his side in several generations. Now BH we have plenty girl children amongst the grandchildren. (Not mine, interesting how that works). Or perhaps he just couldn’t relate to kids at all. I will never know.
In the summer we celebrated “Squiggy’s” barmitzvah. Squiggy was named for my Dad, and I wrote about the conflicting emotions leading up to that auspicious day. This child reminds me of my Dad – the way he looks (their baby pictures are almost identical), and some of his behaviour. There is so much in a name and this kid is such a Sabo!!
One wonders, though, if he had lived, what kind of relationship would we have now with each other. Would we have been able to move forward, leave the past in the dust, and forge some kind of adult relationship? Can that happen? It’s just weird how now I am moving to his last city of residence and he isn’t there. People still remember him, and I have been asked a time or two if I am his daughter. Even that is weird for me, because most of my life I felt like I was my mother’s daughter only. After all, she did raise me and did a damn fine job if you ask me.
So many disjointed thoughts are going through my head. I remember the funeral. We held it at a cargo bay at JFK as he was to be laid to rest in Israel. I remember the forklift truck picking up his coffin to transport it to the airplane and I tried to run after it to stop them. I was 19 and I was in such pain. I wanted them to bring my Dad back. It just seemed so undignified. I sat down on the floor amongst all the pallets and boxes and howled. The rabbi made me stand up so he could do kriah. He told me to accept the fact my dad was dead. Hard words, but necessary. At the other end of the plane journey my brothers met his coffin and escorted him to his final resting place. I will always regret not getting on the plane and travelling to Israel for the second funeral. I needed the closure of seeing his body being placed in the ground. I have since visited his grave site, where 4 years after losing his only child my dear Saba (grandfather) was buried next to him, and where only three years later we buried my dear Savta (grandmother) next to him. My father was sadly joined by his second wife two years ago, also taken tragically early in the prime of her life. So much loss, so much sadness. I take comfort in my children who bring so much joy to my life, in my husband who completes me in a way I never thought possible.
I must look to the future and not dwell in the past. But today I honour my father’s memory as without him I would not be here today.
Rest in Peace.