Ever since I was a little girl, I felt a special closeness to my father. We always understood each other, even though I disagreed with some of his observations and interpretations of the vicissitudes of life, and he with mine.
I remember the wisdom my father offered me from his years in medicine, his Hebrew teachings and his own life experiences. As a guest on my radio show one Father’s Day, he pointed out that the Bible says, “Thou shalt teach it diligently unto thy children,” which, he said, “means to teach them how to live as decent human beings.”
The following is an excerpt adapted from my book, “Pathfinding,” which has many stories told to me by my father.
Upon reflecting on being a father as I was a child he said, “When I look back on those early years, I remember how fortunate I was to be able to spend the time I could with you. I had just gotten out of the military service. I practiced dentistry … and set up an office in our home. You were my firstborn. I wasn’t going to miss those early years. I always did my part in raising you, playing with you and nurturing you.”
Then my father shared a story from his childhood with me:
“I had earned nine dollars one morning and thought I’d celebrate my success by going to a movie. Movies only cost twenty-five cents back then. The nine dollars would probably be the equivalent of a couple of hundred dollars today. I enjoyed the movie, but when I got home, I realized I had lost my wallet. I ran back to the movie theater, but my wallet was gone. I was heartbroken. Times were tough and my mother needed the money.
“The next day the local druggist called and told me someone had found my wallet. Unfortunately, when I retrieved it, the money was gone. I felt cheated a second time. To this day, I remember my mother’s attempts to console me. She said “Zunela [a diminutive Yiddish expression for son], don’t be sad. As much as we need the money, perhaps the person who took it needs it more than we do.” I have often thought about the mitzvahs my mother gave me on that occasion and on many occasions to follow. Her words have stayed with me all of these years.”
Now that my father has passed, I am so glad that I had the opportunity to capture this story and others in my book. It is now part of his legacy.
Happy Fathers’ Day, Dad, and to all fathers past, present and future.
PATRICIA RASKIN hosts “The Patricia Raskin Show” on Saturdays at 4 p.m. on WPRO, 630 AM/99.7 FM. Raskin is a board member of Providence’s Temple Emanu-El.