My dad died yesterday at age 87. He was adored by his family. I am the oldest, his namesake and the black-sheep. I am the only one of the seven siblings who does not live withing a few miles of the lake front home on Burden Lake New York.
I loved my dad and I know he loved me but we were very different people but that changes nothing he was my father and a great and good man.
Last night when I couldn't sleep I went out by the pool and I had a great flash of memory. The day my dad taught me how to swim at Nassau lake in front of the lakeside Burger Stand my Aunt Jenny owned. We were in the water and he held out his arms and I would flail the water towards him and he would take two steps back just enough so he could reach me if I got a mouthful of water. I remember his laughter and his dark wavy hair. I learned how to swim that day. That is how I taught my daughter and I took the same gleeful joy watching her splash and being just close enough to grab her. Lessons learned
The earliest childhood memory I have between ages two and three is falling down the back stairs of our house in Albany. I vividly remember tumbling over and over down the stairs to the basement landing. I have had this memory real or imagined all my life. As I reached the bottom of the stairs he being outside heard the tumult and me screaming crying ran to the bottom and picked me up and held saying over and over "my poor baby" or words to that effect as I cried and he soothed. I had a broken collar bone and remember the trip to the hospital and days in a bath tub with X crossed bandages but more than any other childhood or infantile memory I clearly remember him holding me, comforting me and loving me and knowing because of that I was all right.
Once he told me in private during our tumultuous years "I'm not worried about you you'll be alright. You can take care of yourself it was my youngest by 21 years brother he was most concerned for. He was right because he taught me how to swim.