A Grateful Tribute to My FatherPublished June 17, 2010
As Father's Day approaches, I really miss my dad! Some of my fondest memories about him include his amazing and often startling sense of humor.
He had an unrivaled talent for pulling off an array of incredible practical jokes. As these "jokes" usually followed some event that stirred his anger, frequently in response to my mother's preoccupation for his comfort (especially when he felt perfectly fine), some folks may have considered them to be passive aggressive. I found them to be quite imaginative and creative and I giggled inwardly to cheer him on!
Since my mom constantly hovered over him like a mother hen, "reminding" him to loosen his tie, or to open his top shirt button, he would often roll his eyes and groan. However he always managed to find an interesting and outrageously funny plan to diffuse some rather sticky situations.
For instance, in reaction to one of my mother's obsessions with neatness by plumping up the sofa cushions immediately after company got up off the couch, one evening during a dinner party, after the guests went into the dining room to eat, my dad wrapped up the entire sofa using a whole roll of toilet paper. It was, of course, his obvious attempt to discourage folks from sitting on the couch. He reveled in my mother's gasp of disbelief and shock, but there was also a compelling side to my father for which I am eternally grateful.
He was a kind gentle, extraordinarily handsome man who bore an astounding resemblance to Ernest Hemmingway. My dad was a talented pianist and photographer, who was passionate about all animals, especially cats.
Armed with his camera, he snapped some magnificent photos of the alley cats he encountered on his excursions on the sidewalks of New York City. He frequently showered me with gifts of books about cats for my birthday, and shared little anecdotes about the cats he had as a child. He would spend hours delighting me with the adventures he shared with his favorite cat, Spinach, named for the kitty's predilection for that leafy green vegetable.
His mother, who abhorred cats, deposited Spinach in Central Park, several miles from their home. Incredibly, in a few days, Spinach, somewhat bedraggled, and very hungry, showed up on their front stoop, earning himself a permanent home.
I am positive that I inherited the cat-loving gene from my dad.
My mom tolerated cats from a distance, but due to her fixation on "cleanliness" and loathing the idea of cat hair on our furniture and carpets, she refused to allow us the pleasure of sharing our home with a kitty. So, sadly, I grew up devoid of feline friendship. However I made sure that the man I was going to marry adored cats as much as I did.
Immediately following our honeymoon, two small kittens joined our household, and my inherited adoration of felines was once again ignited. The icing on the cake was my father's frequent visits to our home in order to cash in on some precious and highly-needed kitty time.
We are, after all, strongly influenced by our early childhood experience and our parent's feelings about animals. The deep and lasting impressions they make upon our young minds must account for the future development of our abiding passion for all living creatures.
So I take this opportunity to appreciate my dad, for not only leaving me the wondrous legacy of loving cats, but for all the joys he contributed to my life.