Monday, March 25, 2013

Happy Birthday, Daddy Jim

My Dad, September 2009

Today would have been my father's 96th birthday, had he still dwelt among the living. I almost feel guilty, so raw and fresh is my grief in having just lost my mother, that the pain of my father's passing - three years ago - feels most pale and ghostly by comparison.

Mom & Dad on his 89th birthday, 2006
Thankfully, the vivid memories of the horrible three months of his dying are fading, and what remains are wistful, warm memories of the loving father he was, my whole life.

Me & Dad on my high school graduation day, 1977

Dad loved celebrating birthdays, and there were so many memorable parties. I traveled to Sarasota Florida for his 80th, a bash he threw at Pelican Cove - the retirement community my parents were living in. Dad was in his element, surrounded by friends and family, drinking champagne and telling stories.

Mom & Dad at his 90th birthday party, 2007
For his 85th, I couldn't travel - being in the middle of my pregnancy with the twins and grounded by my OB - so I threw him a party here in New York.

The cheapest space I could find turned out perfect - the local Hungarian Hall, as my dad was always proud of his Hungarian (Jewish) ancestry, even though the only words he could speak in Hungarian were "Jo Istenem!" (pronounced yo ishtenem, meaning "Oh, my god!") and something filthy taught to him by a Hungarian cook at summer camp that caused his mother to wash his mouth out with soap when he repeated it to her upon his return home.
Dad with daughter-in-law Bern and his 3 grandsons, 2007
One unfortunate consequence of having the generations in my family so spread out, is that my children never got to know the vital, full of life man he was, as his fading away began when they were toddlers still. My kids' main memories of their Grandfather are of him sleeping on the sofa through most family gatherings. Though in pictures there is evidence of how much he enjoyed his grandsons' presence in his life.


Dad, you were a good man, a good father. Mom loved you right up to the end and missed you, acutely, every day of her nearly three years without you.

Happy Birthday Daddy, wherever you are.

March 25th will always, for me, belong to you.

Dad, 1961, photo by Bruce Steinhardt


  1. Each time I read about your parents, I'm struck by what lovely, kind people they were. A blessing for you, but it must make their absence more painful.

  2. My parents said the same thing when they wanted to. They were married in a Hungarian Hall in Little Italy somewhere in New York. They both are gone now. In fact I am almost as old as they were when they both died in their mid sixties. I have other relatives that lived much longer so who knows which way I'll go.

    You sound like someone I would like to know better. I love your father's photography and your knowledge of art. I have lots of art books, but no knowledge except I know when I like something.

    I had a son who was a pen and ink artist. He made it to being 25 before he took his own life. Many times I see things or hear things and I wish he hadn't done that because I want to share it with him.

    Thanks for being there.

  3. I can only imagine that the pain never ends.
    I have decided one of the hardest things about getting older is the inevitable loss.


I am so sorry to have to turn word verification back on, but the spam-bots have found me - yikes!