Sunday, June 13, 2010


21 months ago, the Thursday I came home from the hospital with my brand new baby, my parents sat me down and told me that, that March, my father had been diagnosed with lung cancer.

From that day forward, his illness had been irreversibly linked to my daughter. As she grew and developed, so did his disease. As I wondered what unexpected turns she would take, I also tried to predict how my father would fare. Not that it was all doom and gloom - for a long time he looked and felt well - for those who didn't know him well, there was no discernible difference. And for us it was a time of catching the moments we could, while trying not to focus on the day that would no longer be possible. There were extra trips to see the grandparents, stolen weekends in Cambria, and an attempt to capture the uncapturable - to use a cliche, time in a bottle.

But all things eventually come to an end, and on June 2, 2010 my father lost his fight with the disease that, towards the end, ravaged him, sending shock waves through all those around him. He was 63 years old.

I've long imagined if, and how I would write this entry. And now, as I type out the words, it's not coming out like I intended - it rings false and hollow and doesn't capture the man that my father was. But write it I must, because I want to record, even in this halting entry, that doesn't begin to do him justice, a fraction of what he was.

My daughter will never know her grandfather. She won't remember the brief time they spent together, and no matter what I tell her about him, when she sees photos of them together, she will be looking at herself from a time she doesn't recall, with a stranger she never really knew. She won't know his jokes, or the fact he had famous Russian sayings for everything, or that he remembered everything he ever read. And he read a lot. She won't remember his smile, or the fact that he'd give the shirt off his back to anyone in need, before they ever asked. That he could, and would, strike up a conversation with anyone. That he made friends among his contemporaries and their children alike - and with equal ease. That he loved her with every fiber of his body. She will know about it, but she will not know it.

And that is why it is important, imperative that I write it down, clumsily though it comes out. Because then one day, she may read this and know.