Apartment 53

Apartment 53 was my first apartment in NYC where I lived on my own, and thus, where I really think of my life as a Manhattan woman beginning. I've always been fascinated by NYC apartments. Giant buildings filled with people, each with their own story. Windows everywhere. And I always wonder: what's behind them? What do people see when they look in from the outside? What is the real story of the person who lives behind that glass? This is my blog. A real story from a Manhattan apartment.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Dear Dad

I miss you.

I need you more now than I thought I ever would. Who is a woman without her daddy, I wonder?

I know that I drove you crazy while you were here. I never studied hard enough, you thought. I made bad choices, you said. My priorities were all "out of whack," you commented... But as I grew older I became more self-assured. And the studying and the choices and the priorities, whether in or out of whack, were part of what made me the woman that I became. And I think that eventually you became very proud.

You were not proud as most fathers are of their daughters because our relationship was quite different, wasn't it?

You were not there to change my diapers or teach me to talk or play Candyland. You were not there to oooh and aaaah over my first words or the first time I smiled or the first time I successfully operated a sit 'n spin. You came in to my life much later when you fell in love with my mother and I was part of the package. And like it or not, you had to love me too. But I think you liked it. I think you did, didn't you?

You didn't have to love me. I had an attitude problem, didn't I? You gave me braces and I didn't want to wear my headgear (that sucked). You sent me to Israel to learn about my Judaism and I spoiled it with a nasty sunburn (also sucked). You sent me to an excellent (and expensive) college and I couldn't wait to get out. But you loved me anyway. Through all of the yelling and door-slamming and grounding, I know you loved me.

You taught me so much and I wish that you were still here. I so wish that you were still here to teach me more. I yearn for your guidance. I feel like I'm spinning around and around and you are the only one who can make me stand still and tell me what to do. I would do anything to hug you once more - to have just one more conversation with you. You were so wise. You saw in people things they did not see in themselves. I was so lucky to have known you... And you were my father!

What a lucky girl I am.


Without you I would not know a lot of things.

I would not know how to parallel park. I would not know that my backhand is better than my forehand, or that the smell of nail polish really bothers some people. I would not know that property taxes sometimes negate the purpose of purchasing the property altogether, or that looking it up in the dictionary really does teach you more than someone just simply telling you the meaning. I wouldn't know that Shabbat dinners are so important to Jewish families, that Grandma's banana cake is sometimes the best medicine, or that caffeine-free diet coke is just as good as the real stuff. Without you I wouldn't know that when there is a bat in the house the smartest thing you can do is walk around with a tennis racket in front of your face, that most of my stories really can be told in five sentences (though I still rarely adhere to this lesson,) and that the Jets really do "stink". Without you I would never know how to spell chrysanthemum because when other families played basketball they got to play Horse. I would never know that Dutch Dancing could be so funny; that soaking it really can cure many things, and that splinters really won't kill me.

Without you, Dad, I would not know about self-respect. Without you I would not know that gentlemen take women they care about to nice places, and pay for dates and only kiss on the cheek after the first date. I would not know that talk is cheap and that actions speak louder than words. Without you I would be listening to words and not looking at actions. Because words are easy and actions are hard, aren't they?

You've been gone for two years now, Dad. Life has changed a lot since you've left us. Mom is getting married! I know that would make you happy - you always wanted Mom to be happy. Brother has another baby - can you believe it? Three girls and they all, as you can imagine, adore him to pieces. Between the three of them, they bear your initials which is incredible since brother and his wife didn't realize it till I pointed it out! Sister lives in California now. She is happy in the sunshine with the man who's loved her since she was a teenager and that makes me happy. She misses home, I think, her friends and our little nieces and some of the family stuff - though the family stuff has not been the same since you've left us. I am not getting married anymore. That ended soon after you and I said goodbye. We weren't right for each other, and you probably knew that, since you knew everything. But I think that you were too sick and too tired to tell me the truth since you knew that just like everything else, I'd fight you on that too. But you would have been right.

So, I am somewhat alone in the world now that Mom is moving on with her life and sister is three thousand miles away and brother has three mouths to feed and three thousand questions a day to answer... And I miss you. I miss you so much sometimes I can hardly stand it. But all I can say is that I am so glad that I had you for the time that I did, though I wish it was longer. I am not superstitious but I swear that sometimes you are here. There was a man in the elevator with us after your funeral. He acted confused and followed us to the apartment. Mom laughed at me but I swear it was you. Always the life of the party - not even wanting to miss out on your own funeral. It was you, wasn't it?!?!?!

I am so happy that you are out of pain. I know that the last few years of your life were hard and dreary and miserable... But I wish you were here. I miss the smell of your cologne and the feel of your hand patting my head because you were never quite sure how to hug me tightly. I miss the texture of your beard on my cheek when I kissed you hello and goodbye, the jokes that you made and the stories that you told hundreds and hundreds of times and yet still managed to stay funny. Mostly I just miss you being here. I miss the security of having a father to run to when things are scary and ugly and mean. I don't like feeling alone in this world and I know that if you were still here I wouldn't feel that way. But... You always knew I was resilient. You knew it when I was just a girl before I knew it myself, and you knew it when you were leaving me. But you knew all along that I could make it. And somewhere you know that I still can... And I will. But I wish that you were here anyway.

Before I lost you, I think that I was far more free with my heart. I loved people who didn't deserve it just because the mood struck, or something. And you always worried about that. But I can promise you this, Dad: I will not love freely anymore. I know what it is now to have loved and lost and I will not love another person in my life who does not earn that devotion. That was what you worried most about when it came to me, the middle of your three children. And I don't want you to have to worry anymore.

I didn't tell you this enough while you were here, and I'm sorry for that. I love you, Dad. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.


Blogger Amy said...

You are amazing. Please keep writing. He can hear you -- I believe in these things.

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Ed's Sister said...

beautifully written Jill. it brought tears to my eyes.


8:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are not alone in the world. He is with you always - he taught you well, and you learned it all. This letter proves it.

10:01 PM  
Anonymous gila said...

Your writing is so beautiful and honest. I can't stop crying. I, too, believe he can hear you, and I believe he is always with you. Please don't ever stop writing. xo

11:26 AM  
Blogger j said...

that is one of the most beautiful pieces I have read....i love my dad so much and this inspires me to tell him....daily!!and i know your dad can only be proud of the wonderful and eloquent woman you are!!

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Leigh said...

You can borrow Jack whenever you want!

So glad you are writing regularly!


12:58 AM  
Blogger beri said...

even though you regret not taking more pictures, at least you have amazing memories that are now recorded forever. that is lucky!!! thanks for sharing your writing. amy got me addicted to you too now. love-beri

7:49 PM  
Anonymous BSLA said...

I cried, too. This is a beautiful piece of writing, Jilly.

7:28 PM  

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