After nine decades, I still have fleeting visions of my father. I was playing in a favorite muddy spot behind our house when he arrived after a work day at the Stetson hat factory in Philly. Tall and in his handsome mid-30s, he always stayed to spend time with me, his youngest child, then age 4.
He’d tell me fascinating stories of his adventures as a cowboy in Texas, and combat as a doughboy in France during World War I. I found out later that he’d actually come to America as an immigrant child from Lithuania in 1905, and was never in the Army nor Texas. However, the fake stories were fascinating, and formed a happy bond between us.
Then, suddenly one afternoon he didn’t show up. My mom told me he was sick and would play with me again in a couple of days. It never happened. In those years before penicillin and other advanced drugs, his kidney disease advanced until it killed my young dad just a few months later. On Father’s Day each year, I again remember and treasure those too brief, long-ago moments with my dad.