I know this is a bit different than what I normally write about, but this is my blog, and I get to do what I want! I wrote this on Sunday, by the way.
I just finished talking to my good friend Sahar Oz. Sahar is the former teen coordinator of the Jewish Federation of Rochester (since then he’s gone on to bigger and better things. We miss him!). He’s also of that elite class of people known as “people Sahar Massachi looks up to”.
Calling him a role model is but a banal and crude trivialization of the place he holds in my constellation of personal mentors and heroes.
His dad also died the other day.
Lights off in my apartment, cell phone clutched to my ear, I restlessly paced my apartment today, hearing his anguished voice spill out stories of his father. His father who, despite being the very picture of health, the sort of person who takes 20 mile bike rides, hikes, and so forth, passing away due to a minor heart attack.
Shocking. Painful. And there was nothing I could do but listen.
Naturally, I have to start thinking of my own father. I am jealous of Sahar’s relationship with his dad. It seemed to be such a close, loving one. Don’t get me wrong, I love my dad and he loves me. But it’s for us t0 be emotionally intimate. I don’t know why. We both want to be closer.
I think a lot of it is the language barrier. More and more, either his English is getting worse or I can tolerate it less. Maybe both.
He’s also getting a bit deafer, so he can’t hear me well and often I don’t speak loudly enough for him.
I think neither I nor he nor anyone else realizes how much this little thing affects me to the core.
People build mythologies of their parents as superheroes, and are inevitably disappointed when they turn out to be merely human. Yet, my parents are super. I can’t believe how well a job they’ve done. When they talk about unconditional love, *they mean it*.
So my conception of my parents as heroes may have faded, but it’s still there. They really are quite amazing. Which is why physical weakness on my dad’s part is so scary.
Fuck, I barely know my dad at all, ok? He never talks about his past. He’s home less than my mother is – as he has to, you know, work – so by the time he got home, I’d always be doing my homework.
Hell, how much do I know about my mother?
I’ve always thought this: I really wish I knew how to spend more time with my parents in a non-awkward, fun way.
Maybe I should start thinking this: Let me start cooking up those fun ways, rather than wait for them to fall out of the sky.
You know, I really got to know Sahar Oz (Soz, as I call him) through a trip to Poland. Turns out that during that trip, he made sure to call his father and discuss all that he’d seen. Every night. Despite a nightly allotment of 6 hours of sleep a day.
Maybe that’s what family ties are all about? Reaching towards your kin in times of need, rather than internalizing your problems, or going to friends you met 6 months ago when you first got to campus.
I never once cried in Poland. Surrounded by desolation, echoes of hate and death, a legacy of ashes. Never cried once. When I talked to Soz about it, he said not to worry. “One day in the future, maybe a week, maybe a month,” he said, “it’ll all come rushing back to you. On that day, you’ll finally let it all out.”
That day still hasn’t come. I think I’ve cried just once since then. Just once, and then once again today. Once again today, for as I heard Soz’s voice break up over and over again, in his determined recital of anecdotes, mementos, symbols, trivia and metaphors that constitute the memories of his father, he doesn’t know it, but I was crying with him.
3 responses to “Take a bow”
Wonderful post. I am sorry to hear of the loss of your friend’s father. I am glad they had such a close relationship though.
This is a powerful piece of writing, Sahar.
I think a lot of us are going through the difficulty of seeing our parents as real people for the first time, especially as we’ve gone off to college. I’m struggling with this a lot myself these days, especially with my dad, who I never had trouble seeing as a superhero when I was younger. It’s a bit of a shock this summer to realize otherwise. I don’t necessarily need to go into his health issues on the internet, but I can say that it isn’t great.
But what can we do? Try to spend time with them. Do as much as we can to make them happy and proud of us. That’s about it, isn’t it?