Skip to main content

Lessons from My Dad: Interlude

I thought it would be nice for you to have more context about who my Dad was.  My Dad was the only boy born to his extended  family for quite some time.  All of his aunts doted on him constantly.  So much so that they even named one their children, Geraldine, after my father!  (Serendipitously, it was this Geraldine who introduced me to my wife; more on that later.)  I wouldn't say that Dad could do no wrong.  Rather, no matter what he did, it was chalked up to being another one of those things that made Jerry so charming.  One of the more  "charming" anecdotes was about the time my grandparents went away for the weekend and told my Dad, "no parties".  His mother would recount how she came home to find one of Dad's friend's "asleep" (that's how she put it) in the bathtub!  She was always smiling when she told the story.  Dad was more amused (proud?) than chagrined.

Dad (largely due to incidents such as that) enlisted in the navy when he was seventeen.  His mother didn't want him to go; his father couldn't sign the permission papers fast enough.  He chose the navy because his father pointed out to him that on a ship he would always have a clean bed at night.  His mother gave him two instructions: no tatoos and don't bring home a Korean wife (it was 1951 or so and the middle of the Korean conflict).  Dad obeyed his mother.  He did bring home a nice set of fine china from Japan (which we now use for our Passover dishes).  He also won enough money paying pinochle to buy himself a car when he got home.  The only other notable accomplishment was to earn a Purple Heart by falling off an airplane wing that he was painting (he was on an aircraft carrier).  I should point out that I never actually saw the medal. On the one hand it sounds like the kind of joke he would tell, on the other hand is sounds very much like something he would have done...

 Upon Dad's return to civilian life, he got married.  Dad love being married, he just had trouble finding his soul mate.  That first marriage last about a month; he came home one day to find everything gone -- nothing left but the bare walls and beds (which had been stripped).  I never would have known about it except that I found the decree of divorce once day while cleaning the garage.  (Here's a tip: if you have something you don't want the kids to find, get rid of it; they'll find it.)  Dad was very good natured about the whole thing and it became something of a family joke with my children.  We all called her "the smart one"; even Jan (his last wife and true soul mate).  On that topic, my Dad was married four times: the smart one, my mother, an interloper, and Jan.  On reflection, I realize that Jan was the first woman he married just because he loved her.  They were together for 26 years and the last eight years of his life they were together constantly -- going skiing, biking, traveling, and generally just hanging out together.

So Dad's second marriage was to my mother to be a father to me.  He surely had that responsibility thrust on him earlier than expected, but he "stood up to the plate", as it were.  It should be noted that Dad never gave me the slightest inkling that he "had" to get married; I only know because when I was 16 I asked Dad why we never celebrated his and Mom's wedding anniversary.  In any case, he finished college, worked as an electrical engineer in the aerospace industry (making missiles), and generally provided for his family (myself, followed by a brother and then a sister).  Around 1970 there were big layoffs in the aerospace industry and Dad just scraped through.  That's when I saw him make the first big change in his life.  Dad figured that in 10 years there would be another round of layoffs and he'd be older, making more money, still only an average achiever, and therefore that much more attractive to be let go.  So he found a business he could afford to buy (Mac Tools) in a location he wanted (Lake Tahoe) and started over.  I am not sure how much he consulted with my mother about where to move; he loved the outdoors, so living in Tahoe was a dream come true for him.  Mom; not so much.  We all moved into a small apartment at Lake Tahoe and started new schools while Dad worked on building a profitable business.  He became very successful.

Those next 10 years or so were the second big transition in my Dad's life.  We kids -- the glue that held my parent's marriage together -- were getting older and started moving out.  Mom was increasingly unhappy with the outdoorsy lifestyle of Tahoe.  Dad was increasingly more independent.  So over that 10 years, Dad transitioned from an average electrical engineer with a young family in Southern California to a very successful tool salesman with just a (new) wife in Lake Tahoe.  (There was a third marriage in there, but it was about as significant in the long run as his first marriage; it deserves no more than this parenthetical remark.)  That is where he lived out, very happily I might add, the last couple of decades of his life.

There is certainly more to say (and I plan to...), but this is adequate to give you some historical context.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…

Thought for the Day: Prayer II -- How?

Now that we know that the obligation to pray is nothing more (nor less!) than a divine decree, we are going to also need instructions from heaven on how to implement that decree.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to have instruction from heaven how to implement heavenly decrees.  One only needs to look at the shambles that one modern ism has made of the very important Torah principle of תיקון עולם/improving and fixing the world.  They have taken words out of context and used them to support their own nefarious schemes.  (To the point that Google Translate actually translates -- not transliterates -- תיקון עולם as Tikkun Olam.  Amelia Bedelia would be proud; we are not amused.

The Torah teaches us how to pray in two complementary fashions.  One is the way in which the concept is presented as an obligation, the other is by giving us examples of how to practically implement those instructions.

The obligation is introduced in the second paragraph of "sh'ma" -- וּלְ…