Daze of My Life: Father's Days Remembered

Daze of My Life
Father's Days Remembered

As an advertising consultant for Connection Newspapers, one of main responsibilities, other than selling advertising and servicing existing clients, is to review the ad copy submitted, for typos: spelling, grammar, dates/days, offers, etc., "proofing, " we call it. And so it was not so unusual that I found myself peering through a fence at Judean Gardens Cemetery in Silver Spring, Md., standing alongside my brother, Richard, "proofing" the bronze marker that will forever identify my recently deceased father, Barry Lourie, as the individual interred below, checking the facts: date of birth, date of death, the spelling of his name and so forth, so that at the appropriate time, the cemetery can make the necessary arrangements to install his marker in preparation for his "unveiling," a traditional Jewish ceremony.
Checking for accuracy in this manner, but not in this context, is a task I've performed literally thousands of times while working at Connection Newspapers. This time it was different, extraordinarily different. It wasn't about facts so much as it was about feelings, feelings typically not associated with your normal advertiser, unless of course, that advertiser was your father or mother, brother or sister, son or daughter, etc. And though the task at hand was simple - and familiar - enough, completion of it, by means of telling the cemetery staff that the information on the marker was correct was hardly like another day at the office; in fact, it was one day in 19,170, the number of days, approximately, since I was born, up until this day when there Richard and I stood and stared, looking at our father's gravesite marker, contemplating the past and anticipating the future, a future without our father. That wasn't heavy, that was just my father lying there.
And five month's later, as our first Father's Day without our father alive arrives, we'll all have a good cry and remember: his devotion, his love, his humor, his sacrifice, his longevity. "Beez," as we all called him (a childhood nickname of questionable origin), will be with us forever.
It's delusional I know, but I still refer to my parents in the plural. Not that I'm in denial, I'm more in a sort of transitional pretend. Maybe after Father's Day in June, or his birthday in September or the "unveiling" later in the fall, I'll stop referring to my parents and start referring to my mother. But what's the rush, really, I'm not hurting anyone, just helping myself muddle through a life-changing loss. Besides, it helps to keep my father's memory alive, and if he doesn't mind, and I've received no indications that he does, then I'll continue to transition until such time as I can live more normally with the consequences of the previous year's actions (my father was a big proponent of being aware of the consequences of your actions).
I've been extremely fortunate in my life. Death or any significant medical hardship had never really impacted our immediate family. Sure we had grandparents in nursing homes (who eventually died of old age), uncles and aunts who died at relatively "normal" ages and few if any cousins who lived anything but "normal" lives, so when my father finally succumbed at 87, nearly thirty years longer than any of his four brothers, we were sad, of course, but lucky beyond our wildest dreams. We had him longer than we had a right to expect. He may have beaten the odds, but we won the lottery.

Kenneth B. Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.