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A Life Well Lived

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My father passed away earlier this month. At 94 years old he was blessed with a life that many would envy.

He had an incredible wife who put up with his moods and brash personality, but complemented him and worked to make him a better husband and father.  Being an “old school” Dad meant that his kids weren’t coddled and got lots of tough love; but every one of his children knew they were loved.  He taught us respect for others and ourselves; encouraged us to question everything, challenge authority when appropriate, and to be loyal to friends and family.    He was very big on keeping promises.

Photo from few years back of my Dad in the middle surrounded by children (and their spouses) grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Photo from few years back of my Dad in the front row – middle surrounded by children (and their spouses) grandchildren and great grandchildren.

He told me that when you make a commitment or promise you better damn well follow through, because if you go back on your word, you have nothing.  This is a lesson that I have passed on to my daughter and I know she will pass it on to her kids one day.

He was a man of controversy, and often enjoyed initiating that controversy.  If he sensed he was losing an argument (he called them discussions), he would pivot and quickly move to an unrelated topic and try and tie the two together.  He rarely changed his mind about any topic once he had his point of view.  And while he loved his family he was often lacking in the normal social graces many of us take for granted.

Being raised in that environment my sisters and I learned to ignore him when these comments and interactions came up; and we learned to understand what he meant and not what he said.   For example he visited my wife, Denise and me in Cleveland and we took him for a ride to some of the more upscale neighborhoods west of our town, Lakewood.  When we showed him some of the homes that looked like ours but were more expensive, his reply was, “These homes are no worse than yours.”    My wife was aghast; but I knew he was saying, “Your home is just as nice as these homes.”   He would have made a terrible diplomat, but he was always a man of principal and you knew where he stood.

When I spend time with my sisters and their families I see traits of my mother and father in all of them.   It’s their compassion, love of family, emotional strength, and that commitment to do what’s right, and not what’s popular that has been imprinted on us from the beginning.  We have all been blessed to inherit those traits.   That is confirmed when during some discussions my wife and daughter occasionally say to me, “Dad, you’re acting just like Zaida.”  I guess at some point we become our parents, and in most cases that is a good thing.

Mark Dubis

Genuine Pearl Girls Supporter