It is Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 1995. I'm taking a break from the cooking to go outside and sit on the front stoop. It's a glorious day: Warm, late afternoon sun basks the house in light. My youngest daughter Lily is two and a half.
And it is not just the moments of my daughter's memorable wedding weekend that I want to hold onto, but of her life with me, as her daddy, with my name part of hers, both of my hands in hers, my arms around her.
Last weekend as I was helping my daughter pack to go back to college to begin her second year I couldn't help myself from going into mommy mode and giving parental advice. It's the same spiel I've been giving her and her brother for years, and though they know it by heart, I say it anyway.
Tomorrow you leave for overnight camp, the first time you will be away from home for more than a night and/or not under the supervision of a loving Jewish grandparent. I wanted to give you some fatherly advice as you head out for what I'm sure will be the most fun you've ever had.
I sometimes forget that this innocent little girl who tries my patience (often, but certainly not always) is going to eventually grow into a woman. I forget how important it is for her to love her dad.
James is the man with whom she and I have been living for more than two years now. No, he is not her father -- not in the biological sense, anyway. But he does the things fathers do. Angie found a word for a person who does things like that. Dad.
If I were granted one holiday wish, it would be that my father were still alive, so he could meet his precious grandchildren. I know he would have been the best grandpa. Here are some sweet memories of my dad that warm my heart.
My Dad has a good track record of unexpected giving (sorry Mom, not you) but not in the ways one would expect. Here are three things my Dad gave me and what (I think) they secretly mean. I call them gifts. Other people might call them, oh... trash.
I've not yet been the father of girls ages 8 and 11, or daughters 14 and 17. And I cannot pretend to know how stressful and/or fulfilling having college-aged kids will be. I can only know what I have known, and what I know allows me to declare 6 and 9 the greatest ages of childhood.
You are the first man that I ever loved. You are my hero. Your arms were the first place where I felt so safe and protected. The smile that comes upon your face when you see me makes me feel so cherished and adored.
Since my father's passing, there has been a postage stamp with his image, a star on Hollywood Blvd.; two attempted revivals of The Twilight Zone; a Disney ride; a movie, books, graphic novels and an innovative program called "The Fifth Dimension."