Yesterday was the two-year anniversary of Harv’s passing. I thought about him a lot, and I thought about how he would like to be remembered aside from my sharing his wisdom with strangers and friends (which he might have only secretly enjoyed). Though this is a heavy week, no doubt my dad would have wanted me to enjoy myself and think of the good times. And so, in that spirit, I’m posting a sweet, pretty light-hearted little number; also in that spirit I will tell you that, prior to my father dying on June 20, that date was etched into my memory from early puberty because it’s this guy’s birthday.
This letter introduces a new theme, what I like to think of as the “hell is other people” trope. Unlike his earlier complaints about “no joy in Mudville,” i.e. the misery his own mother seemed to steep in like so much bitter, black tea leaf mush during the last years of her long life while he was her caregiver, my dad seemed to delight in his earned curmudgeonliness. You’ll have to friend my brother Andy on Facebook if you want to watch videos of Harv cursing under his breath at everyone from the pharmacist to his ex-daughter-in-law. For now, this will do.
This one is from Thursday, February 25, 2010. He didn’t write the year; I got that from the postmark. But he did record the time, 4:45 a.m. — Harv was into segmented sleep before/after it was cool. Once again, all creative spelling and punctuation is my dad’s.
My dear Stefanie:
I’ve already had my morning 4 cups of coffee and started my day early (as usual). All is well here on the coast of Florida. The weather was really nice (70ish days and cool nights). It gave me an opportunity to sit by the pool + soak up the sun. Although there were a bunch of us older people there, I do my best to avoid them and their inane and annoying conversations. I marvel at their ability to talk about the same things every time they are together i.e.: food, the weather, their children and grandchildren, how warm the pool is, etc etc infinitum. And so I immerse myself in a good book. By the way, the present you sent me, Downhill Lie, is marvelous. I find myself chuckling out loud at his wit about an aging golfer. (My behavior not only keeps the old farts at the pool away from me, but it adds to my reputation as being a bit eccentric.) I’m not a snob but I cannot talk to them about “nothings.” [Here I picture Harv swatting away his fellow poolside alter cockers like a bear, growling with a decidedly Brooklynite twang. -ed.] And as I have this character flaw of saying what I think, they keep their distance.
I think it was Theroe who said that “for every hour he spends with mankind he needs 3 hours in his closet.” Thats me.
How are you and Gene doing? I hope the wedding planning isn’t adding too much stress to your lives. I realize it is a tough task, and am somewhat grateful that you have time to get it done. [We had a long engagement due to extenuating circumstances. -ed.] Its Oct. and you can get everything done without too much running around.
I realize you are the most competent of us all. [This is not true. -ed.] Forging a life far away, having the chutzba to go to California and do so well (thats my DNA in you). After all I left home at 18 to go off on my “adventure” and it turned out pretty OK for both of us. I think you are a good woman, and I love you dearly. You’ve always made me very proud of you. From your Tampa job, your network of friends, Gene and so many other accomplishments. And so, with great love and fatherly pride I sign off. Will speak to you soon.