It occurs to me that 3 weeks from today is your 85th Birthday. We haven’t spoken in a while so I thought that I would bring you up to speed.
Every time I see a old Schwinn bicycle, I think that you’re sending me a message. It’s very comforting to know that you watch over us. I remember when you sold the stores. First the Sporting Goods store, then the Bike shop. You first offered it to each one of us. You were secretly glad that we said no. I don’t know how much you loved working there. I think that I loved the idea that my Dad owned a Toy Store, Sporting Goods Store and Bicycle Shop.
You never particularly liked sports, but there you were next to us and The Ranger games and later The Islander Games. Fast asleep. I tell a story about those days. There are 17,250 people at Madison Square Garden, screaming at the top of their lungs. You’re snoring. Suddenly you awaken, and say, “That was some play!” Michael says, “Dad, that was the Zamboni.” Only three people know that this is a canard. But when the rumor becomes fact, print the rumor. Anyway, I think that you’d get a kick out of it.
I remember as a kid wanting to have a catch with you. Before that day, I’m not sure that you had ever thrown a baseball in your life. You took out an expensive, Wally Bunker, Rawlings mitt from the store, and we had a catch. You weren’t bad. It meant a lot to me.
Every January we’d go to the trade shows. I know meeting Mantle, Mays, Aaron and Brooks Robinson among many others didn’t mean much to you, but you knew how much it meant to us. Because of what it meant to us, you enjoyed it.
As years went on, your love of family didn’t change. 10 years ago, I had 4 tickets to a Friday Night Yankee game. Of course one went to Michael, another to your granddaughter. We told her to choose a friend for the fourth ticket. She chose you. You hadn’t been on a subway for 30 years. (We took the 7 train to the 1969 World Series.) When she asked you graciously went. In the Fourth Inning, I looked over, and there you were, asleep.
I look in the mirror and I see your face. I wish that I had more of you. You used to say, “watch your words, you can’t take them back when they’re out there.” I know that you had a sarcastic sense of humor. You knew when to restrain it. I don’t always know. I’d like to learn to restrain my tongue.
Yours was a special generation. No hyperbole, but it truly was the greatest generation. Like many veterans of you generation, you first supported the Viet Nam war. Later you became vehemently opposed to the war, and all subsequent wars.
You may have been the most educated, informally educated, person that I’ve ever meet. You never went to college, I'm not sure if you graduated from High School. But if asked, I'd respond that my Dad was well educated.
You never were an enthusiastic writer, however. When I traveled Europe in the summer of 1976, I kept sarcastically writing and thanking you for his long letters. Until one day a letter finally came. I found in it 2 feet of toilet paper, with the words on the top Dear Marc, and at the bottom, here's your long letter, Love Dad.
I know that you worry about us, but don’t. You left us quite a legacy. Each other. My Parkinson’s has developed very slowly. I may be more functional today then I was when we last spoke.
Mom is great. You had great taste in women. My brother, my sister and your four grandchildren, follow your example of loyalty and love.
It’s been almost three years. I miss you dearly, but I’m not sad. I’m very satisfied with our relationship. We spoke frankly with each other and I know, just as I hope that you did, that we love each other.
I hope that you don’t mind if I write again. Please write back, I’m low on toilet paper.