Sunday, January 5, 2014

Thinking of You

Four years ago this night, I sat in a quiet small room at Lenox Hill Hospital with my brother as our father passed peacefully from this world into the next. It was the end of a two-year period that saw a steady decline as he dealt with some serious health issues, even though he was in remarkable shape for a man in his early nineties. He wanted to reach his 94th year, as his father died at that age. He almost made it - he was 93!

Celebrating Father's Day, 1950s, with father Sam and sister Dot

The daily life of a very elderly person isn't easy - the simple act of getting up from a chair is tricky and requires planning and determination, as does every little movement one thinks of making. The daily effort of dressing, eating and daily functions, even with help, can be very wearing. There was always some new adaptation to limitations that had to be learned, whether it was a new food or nutrition supplement or medical contraption to contend with. Fortunately, he was able to get around his large apartment with a sturdy walker, which he came to rely on and regard with an almost friendly attitude. He was a proud man and never wanted to be seen as old and feeble, and refused a wheelchair even though walking was difficult and this made his outside world's circumference much smaller.

Watching Central Park runners, using his walker, Fall 2009, wearing a fleece jacket that I made for him years ago that he jokingly called "the pill jacket. This fleece was an early version of the now-ubiquitous fabric that in those days sometimes pilled heavily after only a few wearings.

The end involved a fall, even though we tried to make home safe and guard against this often life-changing event. Three weeks and one hospital stay later, he slipped away quietly, with dignity, and I  believe, with relief. I sang to him (not well, as my singing days were long past, but with feeling, one of his favorite words) so he heard music as he left us. Dad was tired and was ready to go home to his parents and siblings. I only wish that I hadn't been so frightened of this idea at the time and had put less pressure on him to "get well" and accomplish the impossible like put on weight and get stronger, when the signs were right in front of me that all he wanted to do was calmly get on with the process of taking his leave without resistance. If I could do over anything in my life, it would be that.

I don't know how to attach a music file, which is a shame, as I would so love for you to hear Dad sing (he was a singer and teacher of music). There used to be a third party widget that I had on this blog that allowed just that, but the owners let it go and now it's unusable. If anyone can recommend one that will work with this Blogger format, please let me know.

Teaching class, possibly at the Ansonia Hotel, NYC, 1960s

Dad had an interesting array of "artistic and thoughtful" head shots made over his career, so I will close with them. Bravo, Maurice - you were splendid and I am so happy to have shared some wonderful times with you. I know that you are entertaining the Finkles up there and I hope that there is one giant, glittering piano in the sky that you are standing on top of, singing "Reaching for the Moon" as you did as a boy at the tail end of Vaudeville. Happy Days!

Aged about 15, first head shot

I love this one - it's all ahead of him, and he's so dapper. 

You think they retouch pictures today? What about this one? Photos taken by Bruno of Hollywood.

Serious, studious and wearing a bow tie

I prefer this photo of all of them. The star sapphire pinky ring was a gift from my mother

Casual plaid...and check out the eyebrows!

Maurice the beatnik - very Bohemian in a black turtleneck

This is the one he chose and had hundreds, if not thousands, of postcards made for mailing. 

Anyway, thinking of you with love, Dad, always.