Happy Father’s Day. And a belated Happy Mother’s Day, too.
The Fifth Commandment commands us to ‘Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother.’ And so it shall be done. Not only according to Hallmark, but according to all the fortunate sons and daughters who get to share wonderful times with their parents (and even grandparents) on these special days.
Of course on Father’s Day, you can honor your Dad in any number of ways. Send that loved-filled card. Make a phone call (texting Father’s Day greetings can be a bit unusual). Pay a visit, even if that visit unfortunately means a trip to the cemetery to simply stand, to remember, to pray, to place a traditional stone and/or flowers, and even just to privately talk to a parent who is no longer physically with you.
For some sons and daughters (and even grandchildren) who have recently suffered the loss of one or more parents/grandparents, immediately honoring a loved one can take on any number of eulogy-type forms.
Dying to get into the New York Times? Comedians have joked that the first thing they check out in the morning are the obituary listings in the newspaper to make sure they’re not there. But seriously folks, whether in print or even online, The New York Times is more than happy to help a family honor thy father and/or thy mother with a paid obituary. Every day, regular newspaper column obituaries sadly feature the bold face names that one would expect to read all about. But it’s those paid Times obituary listings that are another story. From simple four line listings costing almost $300 to the multi-line, long sagas that a family member can spend thousands of dollars on, those personal line by line messages that can have such special meaning.
With this Father’s Day in mind, I wanted to share one recent paid New York Times obituary listing with you that captured my undivided attention. It’s from one special sounding son to one remarkable sounding Dad. His father wasn’t one of those bold face names that everyone knew but to the son who wanted Times -obituary-readers to get to know his Dad, his pride was clearly showing word by word…
“LOWENSTEIN–CYRUS, My father, Cy Lowenstein, died today. He was 100 years old, turning 101 in June. Most people marvel at a life that spans an entire century for its mere duration, but I marvel at how he lived those 100 years. Born and raised in the Bronx, he met and fell in love with my mother, Lillian, when he was only 16 years old. He was a smart young man and had dreams of becoming a doctor, but abandoned them before he could finish college so that he could marry and make a life with his one true love –Lil. Their love for each only grew stronger over the years as they began to raise a family. He was determined to give his family a good life, and before long he began a career that encompassed two full time jobs so that he could earn enough money to do so. By day, he worked in the General Post Office in NYC and by night, the educational department at the 92nd St. YMHA. I grew up watching his tireless energy, as he went from one job to the other with only one night and one day off each week. In those few hours each week he somehow managed to teach me life lessons that have molded who I am today. His work ethic was rivaled by no one I have ever known. His innate intelligence and commanding personality enabled him to balance both jobs, gain respect of his peers and friends, and adore his wife and children. His devotion to his family, however, was paramount to everything else. He prided himself on his success and he measured success by who he was as a man, a husband and a father. My brother and I learned about love and family by his example, not by his words. He adored the woman he married and for 78 years of marriage we witnessed their everlasting love affair that never wavered. Growing up in their presence was so awe inspiring that even as a teenage boy I would talk to my friends about my parents being the gold standard for love and marriage. He was my best friend, my champion, my advisor and my mentor. There was nothing that I did not share with him or confide in him–nothing. He was always there when I needed him, always emotionally available and always loved me for who I was without any judgment. He was kind and generous. He was loyal and filled with great integrity. He was strong and tough, but sensitive in an era when sensitivity in men was rare. In short, he was my hero. In the last hours of his life, his aged hand wrapped around my index finger and held on tightly, in the same manner that my five year old little hand once held onto his finger. Our eyes met for that last moment and I smiled at him, thinking, for as long as I can remember, he was the man I had hoped to become. I’m still trying.”
I never met Mr. Cy Lowenstein (actual name changed for privacy). But thanks to the generosity and memories of his son, I feel his Father’s Day will be filled with nothing but warm, caring thoughts of his Dad. May all the Father’s Day memories with your own Dad (and with your children and grandchildren) be filled with the same warmth.