(Father’s Day is a special time, and I thought it might be nice to revisit this column I wrote more than 10 years ago. It still has special meaning to me.)
"O MEIN PAPA!" My father was still alive when Eddie Fisher sang about the wonderful love for a father. Years later my father passed away. Every time I hear the lyrics kind memories return.
My dad and I often didn’t see things the same way. But despite our differences, our respect for each other never faded. In life you get one father. Just one. I never forgot it.
Looking back, there are regrets.
I wish we had been closer. But understanding tough love was not my strong suit. The tenderness of a mother wins big time over the toughness of a father. The guy who is tough, the guy who bumps heads and the guy who makes sure wrongs are righted starts off with a handicap. Too late I got smart.
But not too late to get close to my father in the last years of his life. I was in another city and in another endeavor when he took ill. Something inside me, thank goodness, forced me to return to his side in Philadelphia. His business was once a boon, but slowed to a near stop due to his health. I jumped in with both feet. The business would never return to its height, but it was hoped to at least give comfort at his level.
It wasn’t meant to be. Business improved, not his health. In the run to the finish line we made memories.
My father never played the ponies as vividly as his son. But when I got him to the races, he enjoyed it. When I was able to get him into the announcer’s booth, he met Morris Tobe, the Voice of New Jersey horse racing.
Tobe always wanted to be my mentor. He and my dad hit it off sweetly. My father was amazed and dumbfounded to see how Tobe could memorize the colors of the jockeys’ silks in a few minutes in order to call the race. Tobe was a true showman.
Often, with my father standing silently at his side as he called the races, he would flip off the mike and announce to his guest that the jockey with yellow hoops would be tough if his horse could break through the pack. Many times the horse did just that. And Dad’s love for the sport went up notches.
These thoughts and others come to mind as Father’s Day (June 15) approaches. Time moves too fast. In life, it’s one father per person. I write this piece as a reminder to readers with fathers.
Do something about it. Don’t wait until the day before. Plan now. Chances are it won’t matter what you do. Fathers understand. The memories you make will pay dividends, I promise.
I am now a father. I have a bright, wonderful son who holds his head up high ”” and well he should. He’s a people person and loves his job more than his pay. No matter what he chooses to do, no matter where he goes or what he undertakes, one day he will make the bells toll loudly, I promise.
Remember Father’s Day.