My father taught me many things. He taught me the importance of honesty, integrity, hard work and kindness. He taught me to be mindful of others, and to think critically. Although I know I needed discipline at times, my Dad couldn’t do it – it wasn’t until my late teen years that he ever really “yelled” at me, and then once more in my 20s and once in my 30s. He treated me like a princess (except when I was working for him in the vineyards). Dad was a classic Gemini – he had two sides – one was kind and sweet and sensitive, the other was, well, NOT – that other side came out primarily when he was at work (or if you messed with his stuff in his house). He was keeping a journal for a while and talked about his problem with anger, and how he wished he could control it better. So to those of you he yelled at in the vineyards, he didn’t really mean it, forgive and forget it.
I still recall our many get-togethers in the 90s when all of my friends would crowd the kitchen and hang on his every word. Some of my friends considered him their Dad too, and it was okay with me to share him with them, mainly because I’d heard most of those stories already, and his going off on tangents tendency…”It’s like this, you see…” He used to get up early the next morning and make us all bagels with cream cheese and Tang to drink, it was awesome. He guided us all toward peace – there were only 2 fights out of like 30 parties, and he was right there, in the middle, diffusing them. He loved my friends, and one of the only times he let me see him cry was when Alan McIntosh died. I can see them hugging in my minds eye in Heaven now.
Dad was a hard worker. He was retired for about 3 weeks, and he couldn’t take it anymore, he needed to go back to the vineyards. He could very well have taken disability from the age of 20 if he wanted to, when his legs were so severely wounded they were almost taken from him. He was told he’d walk until he was 40, but he beat that by 27 years.
My Dad loved with his whole heart. He was very generous and always helping people. He used to give $20 bills to panhandlers in NYC much to my dismay. He was very wise, but sometimes got taken advantage of due to his trusting nature. Although Dad wanted to be in a relationship, marriage was very hard for him, as at least three of you know. Forgive him, he didn’t mean it, he loves you still. He always said that he truly meant, “Til death do us part”.
A few things that I’ve heard over the week from people about my Dad have really stuck with me – one person called him a legend, one person called him an icon, one person called him remarkable. He was all of those things, yes, but most of all, he was a great father.
The past couple years, his spirit was broken. His health was failing and he couldn’t stand being unable to “keep on keeping on”. He was depressed and not himself, moody and often sad. It was hard to see him that way, hard to see him sad and sick and in pain. There have been no less than 5 times that I have thought my Dad had died, and I thought I was prepared, but he was my greatest ally, my biggest cheerleader, my closest friend. Nothing can prepare a person to lose that which they’ve never been without.
I know he’ll always be with me. He told me that. I like to picture him happy and free, long golden sun lightened hair, bare feet, smiling that million dollar smile in Heaven, surrounded by all the family and friends and pets he’s lost along the way, listening to Janis Joplin sing at that “great gig in the sky” that he would always reference. He’s been sending me signs, feathers and butterflies, heart shaped clouds, bubbles, and rocks. I hope he knows its okay to let go and be free.
Dad would want us all to have a good time and remember him fondly. He wouldn’t want us up here bawling and blubbering. So let’s all raise our glasses in a toast to a great man. To Ray!