If my math is correct (a rare occurrence) my father would have reached his 100th birthday today.
It feels like forever since he died and maybe 26 years is forever.
His legacy is that he taught his children about America. He took us to New York where, at the New York World’s Fair, I saw Michelangelo’s Pieta. We stepped on a moving walkway and saw the sculpture, majestically lit, from a distance. I saw it again, up close, at the Vatican. As I took in the majesty again, my mind remembered every inch of that moving walkway and the echo of my dad’s words “remember this” floated through the air.
We shopped at Saks Fifth Avenue, he bought me a pure silk dress. We ate at the Copacabana and watched a Broadway play. Walking back to our hotel, he said, ‘remember this’. I don’t remember much of the play but they offered me a drink at the Copa! (I was 13–in a Saks Fifth Avenue pure silk dress!)
He took us to Washington, D.C. where we stood at John F. Kennedy’s grave and he said, “remember this”.
We sat in the Senate gallery as Mike Mansfield walked in for the cloture vote on the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He whispered, ‘Remember this’.
We walked through Mount Vernon, we walked through the Smithsonian. We stood at the feet of Abraham Lincoln and read the famous words and he said, ‘remember this’.
There are things that I remember where he did not say ‘remember this’. But I do remember. And, at times, it breaks my heart. At other times and other memories, I laugh.
The Christmas before he died, when I had been practicing law for a few years, he finally told me that he was proud of me. I was 44.
He was my father. He taught me a lot.
He just never got around to teaching me to play golf.