My Turn: By her side every Father's Day

Bob Brody with children, Michael and Caroline, and Bob Brody with children, Michael and Caroline, and wife, Elvira, in the summer of 1995. Photo Credit: Handout

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My husband and I held hands looking down at my parents' graves. My dad had passed away five years ago, and my mom, last May. The day was sunny and the sky clear; my mind unsettled with thoughts of the loss of my parents.

I remember receiving the call from my mother when I was just 25: "Your dad had a massive brain hemorrhage. I don't know if he'll make it." At the time, I was visiting my boyfriend, now my husband, in Philadelphia. We drove back to New York, my hands trembling as I rocked back and forth praying. I didn't want my father to pass, not yet, I wasn't ready.

When we reached the hospital my father was in a coma. His shaved head had a six-inch scar from surgery and he was hooked up to tubes and wires. The room felt cold and sterile. The doctor told us a few days later that if my dad did survive, he might be in a vegetative state, unable to walk or speak. It was too soon to tell.

We waited by his bedside. After a few weeks, my dad opened his blue eyes and squeezed my hand. Slowly my father regained his strength. Over the next year, my mother worked with the physical therapists on my dad's rehabilitation. My mom taught my dad how to read again and compute math problems.

Although he never went back to work as a surgeon, he clocked in countless hours as a volunteer for the Red Cross and even took dance lessons with my mother. As a present to my dad, I married on Father's Day at high noon, on a beautiful day like this one at the cemetery. My father looked handsome, dressed in his tux as he walked me down the aisle. He was able to share in the joys of the births of his four grandchildren and attended my daughter's bat mitzvah.

This Father's Day, my eldest daughter will graduate from high school and start college in September. I will miss my dad not being able to take part in this milestone with our family. I know he would have a big smile as my daughter walks down the aisle to receive her diploma, just as he did at my graduation in the same place, the Tilles Center, 30 years ago.

I am thankful I had a wonderful father who I am able to miss.

--Carolyn Lituchy, Roslyn Heights

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What would other dads do?

 

Two years ago, on Father's Day, at the age of 58, I started a blog, letterstomykids.org. Originally I intended only to go public with "letters" from a journal I had written privately for my children, Michael and Caroline, then 26 and 21. Anyone with any interest in our family could read about our lives together. (It's OK: my kids approved the idea first).

But my blog soon took on an underlying purpose. I called on other parents to do as I had done: preserve personal family history in writing as a legacy for future generations. Playing historian would ideally bring parents and children closer together, one letter at a time.

Slowly the concept is taking hold. I've come across like-minded parents who've already long written "letters" for their kids. Other parents have taken my pledge to commit to following suit. Still others I know have self-published family memoirs, or plan to.

Best of all, at least for me, some 40 parents, fathers and mothers alike, have contributed guest columns, each cast as a letter to his or her children. For example, Farmingdale resident Joe Scalia, a former teacher, will soon go public with a recent letter attempting to reconnect with his estranged adult son, Jesse.

Jeff Zaslow, the best-selling author and father of three who died in an auto accident earlier this year, called my blog a "high calling." Only weeks earlier, he had promised to do a Father's Day column.

This Father's Day, letterstomykids.org will go in a new direction. Almost everything I wrote in those journals for our kids I've already posted online, so I've largely had my say.

From now on, instead, my blog will consist almost entirely of guest columns from parents, all in the form of letters to the next generation. If you have an idea for a guest column, please email me at

Bobbrody@hotmail.com.

--Bob Brody, Forest Hills

 

 

Hanging with my hero: Dad

 

I can't remember just what age I was when I became aware that my dad was my all-time hero. He just was.

Since I was an only child for 11 years, I was both daughter and son rolled into one. I would sit on the stool by my dad's workbench and watch him for hours tinkering on a household project. We would talk and sometimes we would just "be." Dad was the male version of Donna Reed. He would send me off to school every morning with my lunch bag and a hug. I attended Catholic elementary school and since I was quite the social butterfly, he would tell me to pay attention and behave myself. I tried, boy did I try, for Dad, and I always wanted him to be proud of me.

When school was out for the term, I looked forward to our fishing and crabbing outings. Armed with our crab traps and our trusty flash light, we would set out in the wee hours of the morning and spend a wonderful day laughing and getting more sun than either of us needed. The reward for our loss of sleep, a delicious Sunday sauce made from the fresh catch of our bushel of crabs.

Many years have passed since my childhood days with Dad, but the memories have never faded. Eventually I grew up, got married and we took our own three children fishing and crabbing. It was our turn to make new memories for them to cherish. My dad and mom retired to Florida where they enjoyed the warmer climate. Although I was happy that their "golden years" were good ones, I couldn't help but miss them.

When Sundays rolled round we looked forward to our calls so the kids could talk to Grandma and Grandpa. When it was my turn to play catch up with Dad, he always had a silly joke to tell me and I always laughed. I was Dad's number one fan, his best audience. As our conversation came to a close, we'd say our goodbyes and Dad never saw the tears in my eyes when I told him I loved him.

My folks are gone now and as I look at a favorite photo of me and Dad, I know he will always be my "forever hero" and I will always be "Daddy's little girl."

--Diane Sciacchitano,North Massapequa

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