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Daddy's Girl Chapter 1: My Father, My Hero

As a writer, I am used to writer’s block. When I sat down to write something for today, I was faced once again with a blank page, not because I didn’t know what to say, but because there are no words that can truly express how I feel. Loss and heartbreak don’t even scratch the surface. My father was my hero. Over the past few days, I have been overwhelmed by memories of my dad. If I shared them all with you today, we’d be here well into next week. I will save that for my next book, but for now, I want to tell you about my father in three chapters.

 



The first chapter is a love story. My mom and dad met on a blind date over Halloween weekend when my mom was in college at the University of Cincinnati and my dad was working as an aerospace engineer at General Electric. My dad knew almost right away that my mom was the one for him . . . My mom, not so much. She was still testing the waters. After little more than a month of dating, my dad invited himself to Cleveland to visit my mom over her winter break, a move my mom felt was way too premature. She was nervous about having to entertain him for a week in her hometown and felt awkward since they were still getting to know each other. She was all prepared to break up with him when she came back to Cincinnati, but when he asked her out for New Year’s Eve, she agreed. What was one more date? As it turns out, they had SUCH a wonderful time together that night that she never broke up with him. 55 years later and they have never left each other’s side. My parents’ marriage is one of the most enduring and beautiful relationships I have ever witnessed. Over Valentine’s Day this year, my mom and I were talking. She told me that my dad wasn’t into grand romantic gestures, but she never once doubted his love for her. The life he gave my mom, my brother and I, is testament to the fierce, unconditional love he had for our family. And the small, everyday gestures he showed my mom, the way he made coffee for her every morning, or held her hand wherever they went, or took her on dates every Saturday night, was a pure sign of his love for her. Growing up watching their relationship, how they stuck together even through the tough times, how they never stopped talking to each other, how my dad would have a glass of scotch and my mom would have a glass of wine together every night after my father came home from work, how they made time for each other, solidified for me what I wanted in my own future relationship. I’m happy to say that, guided by their example, I found a man who loves me the way my dad loves my mom. I don’t once take that for granted.

 



The second chapter is a character study of a person whose life began with so little and ended with so much. My dad’s parents, my grandparents, were Holocaust survivors, and he grew up in the shadow of that trauma. When they came to America, my father had nothing. As he acclimated to American life, he flourished, first as a student in school, then as a graduate from the University of Cincinnati with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering, then receiving his MBA from Xavier as he worked for GE, and finally as a business owner. He was extremely intelligent, both book smart and street smart. He was social without needing to be the life of the party. He did not have a petty bone in his body. He provided the best of the best for his family. And above all, he was kind. When I shared that he had passed on Facebook, I was overwhelmed (amazed) by how many people reached out. The one common thread throughout their messages was how kind my father was, how he showed respect to everyone, and how, when he talked to you, he made you feel like you were the only person in the world. He had this effect on so many people, from the contractors who worked with him to his employees at Down Lite, to neighbors, friends, and family. Josh and I truly won the lottery to have him as our father. While he showed the nature of his character to everyone he met, we got to live with it daily, to grow up in the glow of his love, and this has always made me want to be a better person. He was an inspiration of what a person should be.

 




The final chapter is perhaps the most personal and precious for me. It’s entitled Daddy’s Girl, and if there was ever a daddy’s girl, it would be me. My father was my first love. My earliest memory with him was riding beside him in his corvette, one of the many sports cars he acquired in his life. While I promised not to share every memory, there are a few that stand out. Sitting next to him on the piano bench as he played Feelings on the piano that I would learn to play on. Hiding under the desk when I heard his car pull into the garage after work and jumping out to surprise him every night. Visiting the planetarium on one of our many father daughter dates and staring up at the stars, feeling a sense of magic at the expanse of the universe. Lying on the floor of his office doing my homework while he worked and listening to his vast array of CDs as we bonded over our shared love of music. As I grew older, we had long philosophical conversations about the meaning of life. My father introduced me to some of my favorite books, Watchers by Dean Koontz and Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. He took me to fancy dinners and on fancy trips. We toured Versailles and sat in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, walked the old streets of Vienna and toured the catacombs at night, and ate Wienerschnitzel and drank beer on a boat on Lake Lucerne in Switzerland. And he always gave me his hand when I needed it, when I hurt myself as a child, when I felt defeated after starting my freshman year of college and came home, homesick, while I walked down the aisle to join my husband, on the cusp of beginning our life together. And these last couple of years, when speech eluded him, just holding his hand was enough for me. I never wanted to let go. Now I have to let go.

 



The last few years have been difficult, but the years before that were filled with love and joy. My father went from being called Daddy to Papa once the grandkids were born, and to say he loved them with his whole heart would be an understatement. They were his life. I still remember the look on his face when he first saw my daughter Alexis, his oldest grandchild, in my arms. From that moment on, he was wrapped around her finger. I remember how the same look of astonishment and instant love crossed his face when he gazed into my daughter Rebecca’s face after she was born. He never hesitated to get down on the floor to play with them, or read to them during their many sleepovers, or take them for walks on the beach in Naples, or just listen to them when they talked about their day. For a while now, we’ve been robbed of this remarkable individual by the thief known as dementia. To the aides who became family during our hardest times, we can’t thank you enough. He was always well taken care of and was able to be in his home, surrounded by those who loved him. Now, his struggle is finally over. Somewhere, he is whole again. Daddy, we carry you with us always, in our hearts and in our memories. Our family is the way it is because of you. Thank you for everything you’ve given us and just know how much you mean to us all. I love you more than I can ever say.








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