A long time ago when I went to camp, my father would send me letters asking if I had any Amyburgers…That is what he called me. I have lots of letters from back then, addressed to me at camp Amyburger Halpern. For some reason I saved those letters. We had a loving relationship back then. It was a lovely simpler time.
He owned a Pharmacy with his business partner Charlie. I have sweet memories of making bows in the back of the store for the Christmas holiday gifts. When I was old enough, I walked from school to the store and played in his office, did my homework or helped Esther, the secretary, file. As a High Schooler I worked in the store legitimately…in the office or out front. I loved working in the gift and cosmetic departments. I mean, who wouldn’t.
As a child I would dance on his feet and he would sweep me across the dance floor at a Bar Mitzvah or family wedding. We didn’t dance much later on. But once in a while we had an opportunity . I saw this picture today while looking through some others and wanted to share. Maybe 15 yrs ago…He was still Dad…Sort of…
Why am I reminiscing today? Today Dad would have been 89 years old. He passed last June 2014 at the age of 88. A man with Alzheimer’s, and yet he still remembered who I was. I would call him every week, 2 or so more times and each time when I’d call, I would say… Hi dad…and he would still answer … Hey Aim..how are you? Hearing those few words comforted me…forget that five minutes into a conversation he would either forget who he was talking to or get fixated on something in his room and the conversation came to a screeching halt. But I did have those first 5 minutes and they were glorious. I always had a story ready to tell him to get him engaged…get him laughing…get him feeling happy. That was my job.
Over the years I baked for Dad’s birthday. He didn’t need another robe or tie or book…But I knew he enjoyed my baking…So I would get busy in the kitchen a few days before his birthday and start baking. One year I made his mother’s recipe for Mandelbreit..another year it was my Great Aunts recipe for rugelach…and then sometimes if it was a cold winter , I would make him Rainbow cookies…all were his favorite and all were easily shipped. I knew that he would enjoy them and that they would help remind him of happier times. The smell, the taste all were sweet reminders for him. He may not remember who sent it or who used to make it but he did remember the cookies. That is all that I cared about. I knew he enjoyed them. That was all that mattered.
Today I woke up and realized that this would be his first birthday without a phone call. .It would be the first birthday he didn’t get a card. The first birthday I didn’t bake for him. What consoles me is this will be his first birthday in 22 years he will get to celebrate with my Mom somewhere in time…Happy Birthday…. Dad..I love you and miss you. Say hi to Mom for me.