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I remember driving to work that day, ten years ago. The first time I had ever worked the second day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. I turned around minutes after I had arrived. My sister had phoned. ‘He’s gone,’ she said. My father. When I got to my parents home my other sister, who is Orthodox, said ‘Daddy doesn’t want you working on Rosh Hashanah.’


I have spent every second day Rosh Hashanah with my sisters since that time. With various nieces and nephews, brothers in law, my son. Eating lunch at my sister’s house, celebrating my father. 


And even though the holiday and the actual  Yahrzeit (hebrew calendar anniversary date) is not for a week and a half, due to COVID I am not sure I will be able to do that this year. And it doesn’t change the fact that in my head I still remember September 10, 2010 as the day I lost my father.


In the last thirteen months of his life my father had lost my mother, developed shingles and was living with congestive heart failure. Shortly after my mother passed and prior to the shingles he was going into work and doing as much for himself as he could. I helped with his laundry and tidying his suite (my sister and her family lived in the main part of the house) and taking him to the barber, running his errands. After the shingles developed he was more ornery than usual and between the pain of that, the heart issues and his sore legs which resembled wood from the lack of circulation, it was challenging.


‘Three of you girls’ he would say to me, ‘and you can’t take half as good of care of me as your mother could alone.’


‘She liked you better than we do,’ I would answer. My mother had taken meticulous care of him, I would tell my then husband ‘If I take one-sixteenth as good care of you as my mother does my father you are a lucky man.’ Once when I had taken my mother to an overnight hospital visit my sister had gone to wake my father up and found his clothes, his towels, toothbrush, all laid out for him. My sister said ‘If mother goes first, Daddy won’t make it through Shiva.’ (The Jewish mourning period.)


He made it through Shiva, the Shloshim (thirty day mourning period), through her first Yahrzeit.


I would drive him around on my day off with his oxygen tank and my son, who was three at the time, in tow. I would watch the part of Fox news he had DVRed for me while I folded his laundry. I would try to be patient and then complain to my sister about what a curmudgeon he was and she would apologize and promise that as soon as school got out she would make it up to me. 


What I would give now to sit with him and even watch Fox news. To argue politics with him, to see how he felt about COVID. To have heard him read from the Torah this past weekend with my son at his Bar Mitzvah as his paternal grandfather did. Or even just to have him on Zoom watching it so I could have phoned him after and said ‘Can you believe it Daddy? He is 13 already! Bar MItzvahed! A Man!’


It hit home even more as I talked to a friend about her own father and his shortcomings and was reminded of all the time my father had for my sisters and I even when he was working long hours. Dinners out when he needed a break from work and to eat and my mom needed a break as well. Friday night dinners for Shabbat and he would come home with bakery cookies and legos when we were young. Endless Rummikub games when we were older, with my father taking apart the entire board to use his one last tile and failing, only for us all to try and put the board back together. An occasional Sunday Tiger game followed by a visit to Greektown. Dinners at Lellis downtown or the casino when I moved to Windsor. Walking home from Shul on Saturdays, I can hear him giving his famous toast  L’Chaims (to life) during the kiddush (meal) while we were still there.


I miss you Daddy-to-you. Can’t believe it has been ten years.

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