Dad and Metaphysics

Dad with his kidsMy father was a Pisces, born 2/22/22. His astrological Sun, Venus, and Uranus are conjunct his ascendant in the sign of Pisces. Dad was a super Pisces. He was also a super father. My brother, Gary (Pisces), sister, Jennifer (Taurus), and I (Gemini) were extremely blessed and we knew it.

 

I didn’t begin reading hands until after dad passed away, so I never analyzed dad’s hands from a symbolic perspective. I haven’t found good pictures of his hands, either. I remember dad’s hands being warm, strong, and capable. He had a grip of steel and a very firm hand shake, but his energetic touch was always gentle and loving.

If the definition of a genius is an average kid with a Jewish mother, ours was father. When I was seven years old, I played a Chopin Prelude on the radio. Dad distributed radios to every class in my grade school. He made sure that everyone who we knew listened. Despite my mortification when I found out, I became an overnight celebrity and ‘child prodigy’ in my grade school and little community. In hindsight, it was great fun.

Dad was an incredible storyteller. Hardly a night went by in early childhood when my brother, sister, and I didn’t go on an exciting far off imaginary adventure at bedtime. “BoBo” the gorilla and “Squeaky” the mouse were friends and two of dad’s magical characters that are still part of us. We draw strength and humor from having known them. I told those stories to my daughter many times in her early childhood. I can imagine her children telling those stories to their children one day.

Pride and JoyI know, it’s a corny salesman’s tool, but dad would ask people if they’d like to see his ‘Pride and Joy’. Dad was a super salesman who always worked for a fixed salary. That never made sense to me. Why would he work for someone else when he could sell nearly anything? Ironically, dad never found anything to sell that truly turned him on. Dad wholesaled products like crystal, candles, pens, and furniture. He also sold products like insurance and real estate.

 

Dad's commercialsThe reason Dad was such a great salesman was his desire and ability to care about people. Everybody looked forward to seeing him and he was as happy as a puppy to see them. Dad remembered everyone’s important personal stuff and made them feel glad to be themselves when he was around. His heartwarming smile and Mom's exercise ball videocomical humor was contagious. Click here to watch dad in action. Although the quality isn’t great because this was converted from old 8mm film, I guarantee you’ll laugh at the content. In case you haven’t seen mom’s famous ‘exercise ball’ video, click here.

Dad at 2Dad carried this embarrassing picture in his wallet. When there was any conversation about testosterone or being well endowed, he’d ask, “Would you like to see a picture of me when I was 2 years old?” At his funeral, dozens of people we never met or knew existed showed up to let us know how valuable and important dad had been to them in their lives.

 

Dad dreamed of becoming a doctor. When WWII came, he lied about his age (17) and enlisted in the Marine Corps. He became a staff sergeant. His next quest was as a tail gunner on a B-24 bomber in the air force. I can’t imagine a scarier job. Dad was the only member of his crew to survive the bloody massacre as their plane was shot down over Italy on their 49th (next to last) mission. Dad bailed out, waiting until the last second to open his parachute because the sky was full of flak. He ended up several hundred miles behind enemy lines with a badly broken leg. He ate from garbage cans at night as he dragged himself to freedom. At daybreak, dad hid under people’s porches or in their basements. When he finally reached the allied forces his leg had become totally black.  Army surgeons wanted to cut it off, but Dad told them that they had better cut his head off while they’re at it. He had been an athlete and great sprinter. Dad once told me that he came close to breaking Jesse Owens world record for the one hundred meter dash while in the marines. Dad’s leg healed with surgery and therapy. It never bothered him.

Dad never ever spoke of his war experiences. When he passed, we went through his personal effects and found photos of him with his air force buddies, press clippings about their tragedy, and a stack of medals. That experience was the turning point in Dad’s life. His intent and priorities became crystal clear after that. Dad was a war hero, but when I was called for my army physical for the Vietnam War, he insisted that I was not to participate in a meaningless and senseless conflict. If it were Hitler’s Germany, dad would have wished me luck and hugged me goodbye. Instead, he wanted to send me to Canada. I applied to all the branches of the armed services as a designer; however, those jobs are reserved for rich people’s kids. Fortunately, I convinced an army psychiatrist that although I was willing to serve, I wouldn’t make a good soldier.

mom and dadDad was highly romantic, old fashioned, and sentimental. Shortly after the war, he spotted my mom at a bus stop. It was love at first sight. Dad swept mom off her feet. They were married three weeks later. I was conceived on their wedding night and born nine months and one day later. I became a huge responsibility in progress. Both mom and dad had to grow up quickly, accept that responsibility, and become very practical. That’s the main reason dad became a salesman instead of a doctor.

Dad and mom danced around the house like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, doing the cha cha, mambo, polka, and tango, and loving it. We kids thought they were ridiculous. Dad treated mom like a goddess and frequently brought her fresh flowers. He made sure to tell us “I love you” a lot. When mom died, we found albums full of hand written romantic anniversary cards that dad had mailed to her every single month for nearly 30 years.

As a family, we watched ‘Leave it To Beaver’, ‘Father Knows Best’, Ozzie and Harriet’, ‘My Three Sons’, and all those other ‘wholesome’ 50”s television shows. TV characters were role models for us. They reinforced our family values. It boggled my young mind to realize that most of the world didn’t actually seem to share those values.

mom and dad's headstoneOn the day Dad died of a sudden massive heart attack, he left a one line love note for mom. She laminated it in plastic and cherished it until she died. After thirty years, we dug dad up and buried him and mom together. I designed a headstone in mom’s favorite red marble.

 

I loved Dad’s visions, inventions, and get rich quick schemes, though none ever materialized. There were super-duper pooper-scoopers, bed wetting prevention devices, unique foods, and numerous gadgets. One of dad’s friends created an “Ant Farm”. Dad tried to raise a relatively small amount of money in order to become a partner. We all thought it was a lunatic idea. Why would anyone want ants in their home?  Next would be the poison ivy terrarium. We may have undermined Dad’s confidence. He never got it together, while his friend became an overnight multi-millionaire. Dad never complained, but there was rarely extra money around.

I remember how Mom and Dad would compose music and write lyrics together. She’d play piano. He’d sing (Piscesrules music). She played Eurydice to his Orpheus. They knocked on doors up and down Tin Pan Alley in New York, trying to peddle their creations. Dad loved Johnny Cash (Pisces). He felt Johnny was the perfect performer for their favorite creation, “The Crack of the Carbine”, a tragic ballad about a hunter and his whitetail prey. We all thought Dad was a better choice than Johnny, but Dad was determined to have Johnny sing it. The story goes that Dad stalked Johnny Cash. One day, he cut Johnny off in a parking lot with his car. Johnny had to agree to hear Dad’s song before Dad let him go. Johnny wasn’t interested, but it did make a good “Big Fish” story to add to Dad’s burgeoning repertoire. Mom and dad ultimately found a relatively unknown group ‘The Limelighters’ to sing their song. They published a 45 rpm record.

There was a dark side to Dad’s Character. His shadowy side revealed itself when the kids flew the coop. Life’s meaning and purpose became abstract and elusive for him. Mom used to tell us that dad would bring little kids he met in the supermarket home. Their parents would lend them to him for the afternoon.

Pisces rules smoke and drugs. Dad compulsively smoked cigarettes. He never coughed or wheezed or we’d have had something to get on his case about. We kids complained that we didn’t want to be passive smokers, so he stopped smoking in our presence. Over the years, Dad became a chain-smoking cigar addict, inhaling his beloved cigars. He finally clogged up. Mom said he was also drinking too much alcohol. He tried to hide his deepening depression, but he’d get too happy and that worried her. I realized how co-dependent we were with dad when we had to do everything for ourselves. Dad would have chewed our food for us if he thought it would help. I believe one of the reasons Dad died so young was so that all of us including mom could grow up.

Two months before Dad died, we had a family reunion. Dad and I hiked into the forest. It felt reminiscent of our magical hikes in early childhood. I grew up believing that elves, fairies, and gnomes skillfully hid under rocks and in trees. They only came out when there were no people around. Dad and I tread lightly like ‘Native Americans’ as we scanned for creatures, plants, rock formations, trees, and bubbling brooks. I spent endless hours with him as a child, turning over rocks in streams; looking for crayfish, lizards, and salamanders. I’m the only person I know who adores the smell of skunk (Cassie may). When dad and I traveled alone in the car, he used to pull over next to a skunk road kill, flap the car door and inhale as deeply as possible. We were sorry for the skunk, but would heartily laugh ourselves to tears at the uniquely pungent experience.

Dad and I stood silently, deep in the forest on that day. A gentle autumn wind rustled the leaves in the trees. We turned and our eyes met. “I love you, Mark” he told me. “I love you, Dad”, I replied. We embraced each other with our hearts pressed together, both of us holding back tears of joy and sadness. It was hard sharing the painful parts. Dad had lost his best friend, Bernie, (sudden massive heart attack) two weeks earlier. Mom said dad was “deeply depressed”. He searched for solace, only to find more sadness. I felt sorry for him. I too, was melancholy because I had recently realized that I had made some bad choices in my life. I didn’t know how to share them with him.

If we had more time together, we would have talked about those things. As we crept stealthily and peacefully through the forest, dad stopped suddenly and put his finger over his mouth, which meant ‘be quiet’. Had he heard a deer, a bear, or a fox? I waited patiently for a moment or two and then said “What?!!”  Dad cut a thunderous fart. We laughed like adolescent schoolboys. That was my next to last memory. My last memory of dad was with thumbs up waving to each other from our cars as we drove in separate directions. Two months later Dad was suddenly and unexpectedly dead at age 54.

“Never say never.” Dad would say. Boy was he right. I swore I’d never be like him in certain ways; however, I turned out a lot like him in ways that matter most. My father’s influence was powerful.  When Cassie was a baby, there was nothing I enjoyed more than being a good old-fashioned homemaker. Joanna told me that other mothers in the park hated me. I used to tell them that Cassie’s shit smelled good (it consisted of her mother’s milk for the first six months). I’d say to Joanna “they’re jealous because they don’t have husbands like me”. I was obliviously proud to be Joanna’s husband and Cassie’s dad. We argued about which of us was luckiest. We all were and still are.

6 thoughts on “Dad and Metaphysics

  1. You brought back great memories of my brother, and tears to my eyes. We loved each other, and he would and did do anything for me. I will always rember the shock, when I was in my office, and was told of his death. I think that was the greatest sock in my life. I always thought he was indestructible!!

    • Thanks Mort. Dad certainly did love you and your family. I also believed that dad was indestructable. Stay tuned for the adventures of Heathcliffe Lipshitz and Hedy Lamarkovitz…

  2. Mark, I was truly touched by your memories of your dad. I never got to know him well, like I did with your mom. He was the kind of father every child should be so blessed with. With that picture of his so-called endowments when he was two, I can tell he had a wonderful sense of humor. The way he treated your mom all those years is a bright testament as to how much he loved her. He was every Jewish girls dream of a romantic. Thank you for reaching deeply into his character and sharing it with us all. I know if he is watching from the universe, he is so proud of the husband, father, and hand reader you are. Linda

    • Thanks, Linda. I’m sure you and dad would have really loved and enjoyed each other had you had the opportunity. Thanks for the personal compliments. Like dad, my biggest success in life has been as a partner and father.

  3. He was THE BEST father ever! We were the luckiest kids and we knew it. Nothing in the world was more important to Dad than his family. He never complained at all. I remember the time Mom scraped all of our leftovers onto a plate as she was stacking the dishes. Dad entered the kitchen, sat down at the table and assumed that the pile of food was his dinner. He began to eat it with his usual grin and pleasant conversation. We all had a good laugh when Mom pointed out the error.

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