Anyone who knew my father for any length of time learned he was a talented and quiet man; a leader. He inspired those who knew him to be creative, be the best they could be. Your efforts were not acceptable if he thought them ‘Half-Assed”.
A couple things I have done in my lifetime made him proud. I got sober and started concentrating on my talents as an artist. He bought a few of my paintings because he liked them, not just because I painted them.
He inspired my latest art quilt, Geisha in The Snow
He gave me a print-out of an image he found on line and liked. I remember dad asking me if I thought I ‘could do anything with this’ as he handed the piece of paper to me. Although the quilt is not completely finished, I was able to show it to dad when he was back east in July. It knocked his socks off!
After I wrote my book-One Voice Raised: A Triumph Over Rape, he called to tell me he thought it was very well written and wished it could be read by all rape survivors. I know he passed his copy on to so many friends it was a dog-eared mess by the time he got it back. Or, maybe he never got it back? I don’t remember. It would be pretty awesome if my book were still being passed along with my dad’s recommendations.
Some of my earliest memories from childhood are of me standing by dads drawing table watching him work on his architectural drawings. I found the process fascinating. I imagine it must have been difficult for him to concentrate with me peering over his left shoulder while he drew, but dad never seemed to mind. I guess it must have been during these times with dad that I decided I wanted to learn to draw.
I spoke with dad about a week before he died. He told me he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and his doctor thought it had spread to his hip. I had the feeling he didn’t want to hang up from the call and that it would be the last time I would talk with him. I tried to shake the feeling, but it wouldn’t go away. I think he knew he was sicker than he let on.
He told me he wished he could go to Venice again. One of my sisters and a few friends and I were heading to Italy on October 10th. I promised we would send photos and told him I hoped he would get the chance to return.
On the 13th of October dad had what was supposed to be the first in a course of chemotherapy treatments. After the treatment he said he felt better-no pain in his stomach from a lingering bout of diverticulitis. It was the best he had felt in weeks and he said he thought he was on the mend…happy to feel like his old self again.
The next day dad enjoyed a big lunch and was in good spirits. He went to lay down for a nap and didn’t wake up.
Around 11pm the doorbell to our apartment in Venice rang. My sister unlocked the door and no one was there. It was just about the same time dad laid down for his nap in California. I guess dad made it back to Venice after all.
It would be just like him to ring the bell and hide.
My father was an architect who played a part in the construction of many malls and buildings around the country and in Europe. Although these buildings will be around for years, I think his legacy will live on in his 5 children, grandkids, great grand kids and his friends. He taught us to try our hardest at what ever we pursued. By striving to be the best, you will never be disappointed in what you accomplish knowing you have given it your all.
And, he taught us to laugh. He loved to make us laugh.
Dads heart was to be out on the water and as often as he could he would be on his boat sailing.
Lately I have been hearing a Tom Waits song in my head:
Shiver Me Timbers
I’m leavin’ my fam’ly
And leavin’ my friends
My body’s at home
But my heart’s in the wind
Where the clouds are like headlines
On a new front page sky
My tears are salt water
And the moon’s full and high
The fog’s liftin’
And the sand’s shiftin’
And I’m driftin’ on out
And Ol’ Captain Ahab
He ain’t got nothin’ on me.
So come on and swallow me, don’t follow me
I’m trav’lin’ alone
Blue water’s my daughter
‘N I’m gonna skip like a stone
Everyone who met my father learned a lot about themselves by listening to the advice and teachings from a man whose harshest words were
“For crying out loud.”
And when he was really mad, he added,
Love you dad…gentle breezes…till we meet again.