Father's Day Memories
Our family’s move from Baltimore to Toronto in 1964 was traumatic for many reasons, one of which was Father’s Day. (I was in a Cheder for Mother’s Day and it wasn’t mentioned. After coming home not being able to sit down because of a disciplinary issue my parents moved me to a different school.)I had never heard of Father’s Day before Miss Levine, who always wore dark glasses, announced that we would be making cards for our fathers. I couldn’t picture my father being excited by a card, so I announced that I would not participate. I figured that I would memorize some extra Mishna in his honor to make him happy. Miss Levine wasn’t happy. She tried her best to explain the importance of Father’s Day, but her words, on top of her glasses, only convinced me that she was from a different planet. We compromised and I made a card that announced my extra Mishna study.
Obedient student that I was, at least on that day, I followed Miss Levine’s instructions and handed my father the card before we left for the Yeshiva. “What is this?” he asked. “It’s for Father’s Day,” I answered. He looked at me and asked, “Do you want to go back to the Cheder? Every day is Father’s Day.”
The conversation was over. It was the last time I tried to do something for Father’s Day, that is, until I became a father.
Twenty-five years later, my son presented me with my Father’s Day gift; a 6 inch blue velour tie decorated with sparkles. I immediately took off my regular tie and put on my gift with a safety pin. The idea was to switch ties before I entered the synagogue for services. He was so excited that I was wearing his tie that he insisted on coming to the synagogue with me. I have to admit that I received numerous compliments from everyone, and my son received almost fifty dollars in gifts. He was in heaven, which I guess is the absolutely best Father’s Day gift I could have received, but I was uncomfortable doing something my father would not have done, and on Father’s Day!
I called my father to ask him whether I made a mistake in acknowledging Father’s Day. His reaction? “Why didn’t he make one for me?”
“But, Pa, I thought we shouldn’t celebrate Father’s Day!”
“You have to teach Kibud Av, honoring parents, in a way that is appropriate for each child. Your children should not speak to you in third person, and they should honor Father’s Day. You won’t be able to raise your children as I raised you. Your children are good kids and you were impossible.” (He must have been joking about that final comment!)
My father died eleven years ago, and yet not a single day passes when I don’t reach for the phone to call him. Whenever I have a question I want to ask my father. I want to call him with each new insight. I can’t read a verse, Midrash, law or Talmudic selection, without thinking, “How would Pa read this?”
He was right; every day is Father’s Day even so long after he passed away.
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