My dad has two moods: happy and hungry.
That’s slightly simplified but for the bulk of my life it did seem that way.
Whether or not my dad was having a richer (or tougher work and/or) emotional life- he made sure we believed all was well at all times.
And for the most part it was.
Some would even say we (my brother, sister and I) had a magical childhood- complete with the adequate dysfunction of every household yes, but magical none the less in many ways.
For instance, how many 6 year olds get to sit in a recording studio while Dolly Parton is recording what will be the GIANT hit “Here You Come Again?!”
Not many, but I did.
In fact, Dolly Parton got to know me so well (because of my dad!) that she told me “Jenny one day you’ll be a star..”
I’m still working on that one Dolly!
We got to watch while Barbra Streisand strummed her guitar during one of our vacations at her house in Malibu.
We got to do a lot of really extraordinary and fabulous things because my dad took us with him while he was doing the extraordinary and fabulous things.
My dad made our childhood fun.
We got to answer his phones at work which were always blowing up with calls from celebrities far and wide.
We got to accompany him to parties complete with the ultra fabulous Hollywood industry people.
My dad said “YES” to practically everything we asked- other than maybe drugs and alcohol- He’s never been a fan.
I suppose that’s why I don’t do either- and frankly never really did.
He also has crazy good style. And was infinitely better to shop with than my mom!
And he tried to make everything easier for us. One time when my mom was driving me bonkers about my body, my dad hired my close friend who happened to be a nutritionist to come live with me for a while- to help me, and take my mom out of that equation.
It did help for a time but as is usually the case- one’s journey to better physical health ultimately must come from within!
Far more important than the cool stuff we got to do and interesting people we got to meet, my brother, sister and I were given the message time and time again from our dad that we were limitless and super loved.
Talent mixed with hard work, law school and a touch of luck would set us all up for bright futures.
So far so good. We all work hard, have (dare I say) good marriages, and awesome kids. No really.
My dad. He is way smart, and one of the funniest people on the planet.
But my favorite thing about him (aside from everything!) is he is the ultimate optimist.
The saying goes “Gd doesn’t give you what you can’t handle.” ok.
But Gd sure can test us!
In 2007 about a month before my niece’s bat mitzvah, my dad got diagnosed with throat cancer.
Most of you don’t know about my family’s opening act of my dad’s throat cancer before my mom’s headlining pancreatic cancer.
But yes, my dad had the cancer first.
And went through various treatments resulting in a cure thankfully (poo poo poo) just a month before my mom’s diagnosis.
I think during this time my pop missed maybe one week of work. Maybe.
Oh dad. you didn’t foresee the bumps that might occur in our lives but boy did you handle them.
My dad is a fixer better than even “Olivia Pope“, so losing my mom to something he was unable to fix definitely challenged his spirit.
He could’ve just checked out.
But he didn’t.
My mom died and my father has worked tirelessly to navigate the murky waters that come with losing one’s wife and mother of three adult children who’s umbilical chords probably weren’t cut until that day.
It has not been easy. I am not easy.
I won’t speak for my siblings because I fear them (not really, kinda) but I know that I have not had an easy time since losing my mom- and my dad has done the absolute best he can to pick up the slack which for an older guy (sorry dad), which for ANY guy is challenging.
My life and my dad’s life intersect daily on a personal and professional level-
which means he gets a double dose of my neuroses: He hears all of my woes and worries.
Little by little he tries to quell my fears that are typically irrational (even the rational ones he will do his best to quiet as well).
And he is of course the best “spin master”.
This conversation did happened, but I have taken some liberties with its content.
Me: “Dad, I’ve been fired!”
My dad: “Good. You got out.”
“Great, more time with Keith and the kids.”
“More time to write your next book.
“More time for the better gig you’re sure to get.”
“Let me help you.”
He means all of it.
Many people talk to their dads once a week, or once a month.
My brother, sister and I- we talk to our dad at least once a day.
And I hope that is always how it is.
My accent, my voice (my dad also used to sing a bit- and he’s way musical!), my rationale perspective (most of the time) comes from my dad.
My moxie and sense of humor too.
My drive also comes from him.
I am (somewhat) unrelenting until I get what I want.
I want and need to make a name for myself.
But it dawned on me recently my dad’s goals and his need for accomplishment has never been about him.
It has always been about us.
Every move he’s made has been in hopes of making us smile, and making our lives better.
I love you very much.