Farewell to Father

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Farewell to Father

Post by DrippingColors » Sun Sep 09, 2018 3:20 pm

Death, be not proud. Find no glory in your conquest. My Father did not succumb to you. He fought your icy grip with every last breath. You can take the long suffering flesh of Norman Pomerantz; for we will all soon forget the shell of a body you claimed and remember the once energetic sparkle and vibrant smile of a man who loved the wonders of life, and the opportunities it afforded.

To me, he was a teacher, a provider and a protector. More than just offering material things, he demonstrated by example - unflinching ethics. He demanded that we act truthfully and honorably. He stood up to those who would do us harm, without sheltering us from life's harsh realities.

He took the time to coach our baseball team, to explain the infield fly rule, and to instruct us what you do when there's a man on first and third with one out. He showed us how to handle a hot grounder and chase down soaring pop flies. During one of our many backyard training sessions, he suddenly reared back and started heaving blazing line drives at Dave and me. We glanced at each other, knowing we were completely incapable of fielding these zingers. Why was he doing this? We could get seriously hurt. I later realized that it was a survivalist lesson. Be prepared. Sometimes life throws fastballs straight at your head. You can get hit, jump out of the way, or rise to the occasion and, with practice, gain the confidence and skill to meet the challenges straight on.

Dad wanted us to be tough. It’s a hard thing to teach your kids. You want them to be sweet and kind. But in that era, a father's job was to teach you how to function in a dangerous and uncertain world. Norman was a peaceful and nonviolent man. But he wanted us to be independent. He wanted us to expect the world to give us nothing we didn’t earn and to be wary of those who would try and cheat us out of what was rightfully ours. Which is kind of funny, because he gave me so much. I would be embarrassed to account for all the help he has provided for my entire life.

He was driven to succeed. He was certain that study and hard work would be rewarded. My father was an attorney, neither for riches nor power, but because, in his mind, to practice law was the finest thing a man or woman could do. So that's what he did for thirty five years. Even as the pressures of the job tore holes in his stomach, when a blown case meant not just a loss of income, but a broken client who would never be made whole, and a family whose suffering would continue. He spent his time here on earth seeking justice for those in dire straits and great need, the injured and the castoffs of our community. Sadly, for those efforts, he often garnered the sneers and derision of politicians and comedians, whose careless jabs stung his heart. He was a man who started with very little, but the love of family. For all the distances he traveled, and all he accumulated along the way, he left this world with little else, but the love of family.

He could be a taciturn man, who had trouble expressing joy or emoting sorrow, but he had a generous heart. He would quietly, without fanfare, write a check to help someone out, or spend hours handing out free legal advice to friends or family who sought his counsel.

When I was 19 and Dave was 20, they reinstated the draft. They also demanded proof of compliance to receive college student loans. It was only five years after the fall of Saigon. Unsure what to do, I asked my Dad. Twenty-five years earlier, when his country called, he answered. I wear his dog tags around my neck. Though Dad was a patriot and a veteran, my question presented an uncomfortable choice for him. He stretched a frown, as he would do when making difficult decisions. After some thought, he told me to register for the draft, but added, "If they come for you, you come to me." I nodded my head in understanding. If I was going to be sent to the next Vietnam, he would find a loophole, or an alternative or, for all I know, even give me money to go to Canada, to avoid another militaristic misadventure. If they come for you, you come to me. He would never abandon us, or sacrifice us to a politician's folly.

Then came the diagnosis - inoperable, terminal cancer. Because sometimes, life throws fastballs, straight at your head. They gave him two to five years to live. He was devastated. He briefly crumbled. But he knew you never give up. He retired and declared war on his disease. He read every journal article and flew across the country to attend conferences. He tried any treatment that offered promise and defied conventional medical wisdom when he discovered reasons to doubt it. And twenty six years later he was still alive.

When the doctors tell you there's nothing left to try and you should go home and get your affairs in order,
When the medicine stops working,
When the experimental treatment is outlawed,

The fact that he didn’t live forever was not for a lack of effort on his part.

A few years later, I was watching the news with my Dad. There was a report on some extreme skiers who perished in an avalanche. They had taken a helicopter to the summit of a treacherous run and were engulfed in a shelf of snow. It was a tragic story. I was surprised by my father's reaction, when he shook his head and said, "I don't have any pity for these people." I asked him why. He continued, "If they think life is too boring to live without the adrenaline rush of risking death, than I can't be worried about them." Everyday life as a husband and father was not the least bit boring to him. He would sacrifice anything for another year. He wanted to watch his grandkids grow up. He might not have been warm and fuzzy and he didn't easily toss out praise or expressions of joy, but he taught us that life is a precious gift, to be cherished and protected, with all our heart, all our soul and all our might.

I've faced some tough times, as everyone does sooner or later. Dad was right about that. But you never give up. You don’t go down without a fight. He's no longer here for me to consult. He hasn't been able to protect me for some time now. But I have no fear of what lies ahead. Because I am tough. Because I am not afraid of the fastballs. Because my Dad taught me how to catch them.
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Re: Farewell to Father

Post by bones » Sun Sep 09, 2018 6:23 pm

a real nice tribute...

its nice to have deep roots!
Last edited by bones on Mon Sep 10, 2018 8:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Farewell to Father

Post by SunshineSue » Sun Sep 09, 2018 8:25 pm

I'm so sorry, Mike!! You were blessed with such wonderful parents, as they were blessed with a wonderful son. I hope the happy memories will ease the pain of the grief. :bigheart


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Re: Farewell to Father

Post by dr bakes » Sun Sep 09, 2018 8:35 pm

So sorry for your loss Michael
I know all too well what a difficult time this is
Tell me a lie and I will swear, i'll swear it's True

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Re: Farewell to Father

Post by KC.Jones » Sun Sep 09, 2018 8:41 pm

Beautiful tribute, Mike. I hope you're doing okay. I've been wondering where you've been since your vacation lately. I'm really sorry to hear about your father, he seems like he was a great man.

:grouphug :bigheart
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Re: Farewell to Father

Post by Griff » Sun Sep 09, 2018 9:02 pm

That was absolutely beautiful. Thanks for sharing your love with us. :bigheart

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