Dear Father, AKA Dad, Pops, Grandfather, Uncle Marvin, 69, Brother, Merv, Old Man, Macha, and all the others,
I have to believe that at 84, this picture must still feel like it was taken just yesterday. It is hard to say how old you were, but I do know life was as you have described it was very happy. You have also said you knew how good you had it then. I assume it was at this point that you had just graduated from College and Optometry School, where you lettered as Captain of the Poker Team at each institution. And of course, you had just met your soul mate, Beverly Kaplan, from Kaplan, Louisiana.
In fact right after you and Mom married, you fought valiently for this country in the battle of Ping Pong where you sustained your war injury. To this day, you have continued to live a full athletic career despite losing a knee cap. You made sure your own kids romped with you and played sports. Nothing, later in your life, made me happier than seeing you take out your tennis racket because that meant you would be taking me to hit balls, despite Mom thinking it was just not a “ladylike activity”. You knew it made me Happy and I guess that is really where we became best friends. You just got me and my lil southern “TomBoy” “Pitiful Pearl” self.
It seems you have a career of bringing happiness into the world. After all 59 years ago, you helped deliver Rae and Jan because Aunt Rita decided to have those girls when she was ready! There you and Mom were to help Uncle Sam and look at what happiness that brought. Lord knows how you are so loved by all the nieces, nephews and now great nieces and nephews and as the great greats get older, they too will love you. You just have that thing that our family has always needed, humor and genuine interest in everyone else’s life.
There is of course the activities you do that also engage and definitely humor others….As Dave your trainer would say, you are Different. But think about it, how would you like the nickname “Killer”? Sweet Dave is now known far and wide as Killer, but he of course is not the only one that has one of your pet nicknames. I grew up hearing and loving all those wonderful friends of yours with nicknames, most are now gone and you still speak of them and miss them. I suspect you can remember birthdays past with all of them.
Today, you world has changed in ways not even you can hear yourself say. Today, when you say, “I can’t bust an egg”, I have to laugh. Hell, I saw you shoot your age just two years ago and cried. You of course said, what’s the big deal? Well, let’s see, a big deal? I am not sure too many children get to golf with their father and certainly not see him shoot his age. That made me very happy and I know it thrilled you as well.
For every year of your life until this year, you shared this day with your brother Morris, and he left you soon after Mom. I know how badly you miss him and all your siblings. Because family was and is the most important part of life, I have watched you care for each of your siblings in such a hands on manner that few could really ever understand what your commitment to family looked like and how hard it must be to watch that disappear slowly and over time. But, you and Uncle Morrie certainly did share a sense of style! And “My Boy” he too has left a legacy of happy for us to remember.
And so today, you are 84. The world around you is completely new. It must seem as if this is your first birthday. It is certainly the first time in 60 years you have had to have a “Happy” birthday without Mom. I hear everyone all day tell you what you need to do. How you need to “snap out” of it. How you need to move on. Everyone is the expert. I also know how hard you try everyday to be that Marvin that died the day day Mom was diagnosed with cancer. I see you fighting to have some Happy. I hear you say, “I am going to get better”. I am certain you will “get better” , but I also know you are GOOD. Good to the core and better is a relative term. I know without a doubt you and Mom had what few have or had, and so of course getting “better” is a struggle. Just be you each moment and know you just have to do each moment the best you can.
Father, you are PERFECT. You always have been in my eyes and you always will be. You do not have to do anything but continue to wake up and find your way each day. No one has walked in your shoes. No one has lived your life, full of such Happy times and certainly a history full of sad. You have been the strength and the Happy for everyone for as long as I remember. So a half hearted happy birthday dad, for I too am sad on this day. And yes, we will get through it together, for we always have been and I pray always will be best friends.
For making your life a project of bringing Happy and Humor to everyone, may you one day have a full day of Happy.