Our fathers, our children
Team ParentMap put out the call to staff, friends and family to submit short pieces about the fathers in their lives, past and present. We’re a blessed group with lots of loving papas. When I forwarded the request to my three kids, I got the same response I get with emailed articles about global warming, political gaffes and art museum exhibits:
Yet as I write this, on this eve of my daughter’s wedding weekend, I froze seeing the photo of her dancing in her daddy’s arms in my proof copy of this issue. Ari magically captured the essence of the many qualities that make her father so beloved.
Reading her tribute, included in our story, I wept.
My father, Sheldon Williams (z”l), passed away quite suddenly less than two weeks ago. Handsome in a Neil Diamond way, he had suffered from dementia for many years, and in some ways I lost him long ago. Reading Ari’s heartfelt words about Bobby, her appropriately worshipped daddy and my husband, instantly had me revisiting the eulogy I wrote so recently to honor my own father.
The memory of your life, my dear father Sheldon, rises before me this solemn moment as I stand here and recall all the years of devotion, kindness, love and encouragement that you have shown me during your life. I recall all of the sacrifices you made for my welfare and the many comforts with which you provided me. You rejoiced in my achievements, you guided me in my perplexities, and you strengthened me in my trials and disappointments. The passing of time will never diminish the blessed memories of your life.
My father was one of the first stay-at-home dads. In the late ’60s he led the way, working full time as a history teacher then school administrator. He was also our fun-loving and primary caretaker. He rustled us up in the morning, put breakfast and dinner on the table, and tucked us in when the day was done.
My dad made us laugh. He was present like Bobby has always been for our children, whether working his three jobs to make ends meet or frolicking on the beach. He brought light-heartedness and cheer when our mother — the very serious, Ph.D.-seeking full-time teacher — could sometimes find no humor.
He showed us that by working hard day after day, one could advance and accomplish great things. For my dad, greatness was tied to his children’s and grandchildren’s achievements. A few weeks ago he lit up when Ari and I hand-delivered her wedding invitation. He beamed with pride hearing that our son, Eli, is graduating in a few short weeks with honors, and that our youngest daughter, Maya, studies for her Bat Mitzvah in Jerusalem by Skyping with her teacher in Israel weekly.
Dad — may you rest in peace.