To my father

My father was an artist. His hands were capable of drawing, sculpting, painting, building wonderful creations. He loved creating things. He loved the beautiful things in life. He loved sunsets and rainstorms and the sweet smell of fresh-cut grass. He loved wisteria and roses and the poplar tree he planted when it was a stick he rescued from the woods.

He taught me and my sister to love and cherish beauty. He found beauty wherever he looked. It was as if he had special sensors that led him to the delicate, the fragile, the sweet, and the precious.

I think that part of that gift that he had came from a serenity that he carried within him. He grew up in a home that was not perfect. He was unable to finish high school because he needed to earn money for his family. He married my mother, not the easiest woman to live with, and he worked hard for everything we had.

Yet, I don’t remember my father being upset, angry, bitter, or ever anything but even tempered and optimistic. He loved the people who came into his store. One after the other, they became his friends and came back to him whenever they needed the merchandise he sold. There was an inner serenity that he possessed that I only began to appreciate as I became an adult.

Through the years when our children were growing, life was very busy, sometimes frenetic. But I always had my father’s example to follow– of a man who knew that in the end, things would work out and that anything that did not threaten a person’s health or well-being was not really a problem.

So now the children are grown and we are finally settled in our own home and I enjoy life more each day. I love the varied calls of the birds. I love the perfumes of my garden—sage and rosemary and jasmine and honeysuckle. I love watching the trees bloom each year and then form lemons and pomegranates and clementines and olives. This year, for the first time there are plums too. And the flowers lift my heart—the bougainvillea in fuschia and purple and orange and pink and white. I watch the sun flicker in the shadows as a gentle breeze rustles the leaves of the grapevine, already blooming with clusters of grapes that will be full-grown in August.

I thank G-d for the beauty in the world, for the miracles of life and family and children’s laughter and sloppy kisses and the love of a spouse. And I thank my father for teaching me to appreciate all of the beauty in the world.

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  1. Your father, my Zayda, must have been an eternal optimist — always believing that things would get better.

    Even when he was very ill, he was thinking about a better time. I will never forget him telling me that I should be happy when he dies. He used the words, “no more pain”.

    I will always have warm thoughts whenever I remember him… and if I had to use one word to describe him, I think that word would be “soft”.

    He was always interested in what we were doing and always had time to listen to us… Zayda was very, very special & I am lucky to have had the chance to get to know him and be close to him.