|my dear Dad, Charlie|
Five years ago, I lost my Dad. Five years ago, a long, frightening month in San Diego of worrying, soothing, helping, crying came to an end in the wee hours of the morning. He went from a quite spry 74 year old to... well, (physically) gone... so quickly. Yes, cancer.
I could tell you about how scalding the dying process was, for all of us: my Dad (he had been through this with my Mom; he knew what was coming), my brothers, me. True, there were moments of quiet joy and bonding (crosswords and Padre games, set to the soundtrack of Dr Ralph Stanley), but mostly it was just very scary and difficult. If you've been through the whole thing, the hospital time, the diagnosis, followed by the eventual "time to come home"... then you know. This is a pretty recent loss for me, so I'd rather not dwell in the dark place too much today.
I'd rather tell you this. My Dad's name was Charlie. We gave Jacky his middle name in honor of my Dad. He was a child of Russian-Jew immigrants, an English teacher, a sports coach (and fan), a hunter, a one-time body-builder (evidenced above), a one-time truck driver, a restauranteur, a classic car guy, a lead-footed driver, an open-armed adopter of a young girl (me), a friend to many, many, many. He had a temper, but he was passionate and kind. He was a staggeringly generous man... and he was memorable: my whole childhood, we couldn't go anywhere without being stopped... "coach Kahan!?!" (cue children w/eyes rolling. we learned to appreciate his popularity later.). He was that guy.
He floated the Amazon twice, safari'd in Africa, drove around Europe in a VW van and both ran with the Pamplona bulls and attended the 1960 Rome Olympics (how cool must that have been!), and drove us kids up to Montana many Summers to fish and shoot guns. He was in the Navy during the Korean War, and riveted us at the dinner table with the more G-rated stories of life at sea and on Guam.
He made a perfect potato salad, a holdover from helping out in the family's deli as a child. When I would come home to visit, he always had "puttered" a little in the kitchen... while we caught up on our political "discussions," there would be a little something to nosh on: homemade ceviche, maybe some guacamole, some delicious onion dip (from the packet, natch. the best.). He loved to bake, especially with a little booze tipped in ("doctoring it up"). He was a true child of the Depression, always keeping an eye out for food and financial security. He always put his children first. In the aftermath of my Mom's death, when I called him a little depressed from somewhere in Italy (the post-college trip), and suggested that maybe I should just come to SD to help him instead of moving to San Francisco to start my career, he was absolute: no way, you follow your own path. He always knew the right thing to do.
My Dad was a life-long San Diegan, aside from his Navy years. He made friends for life, and never lost touch with people... elementary/Jr High/HS school classmates, ex-students, colleagues, hunting buddies, business partners. He taught us the Golden Rule: do unto others... His funeral is a bit of a blur to me now, but I still feel the glow of the many friends (including my Jr High PE coach!) who stood up and told stories that were heart-searing and hilarious and tearful. It was how all of us would want to be honored, I think.
I like telling people about my Dad, and I could go on. But, I think you get it. He was a special guy. He's truly missed, but we still feel him.
Thanks for reading. xoxo