Had lunch and dinner at my cousin Alan's house, courtesy of his new gas grill. It seemed like I went lighter than Mother's Day, smaller chicken and veggie skewers, cucumber salad, mango salad, one hot dog, punctuated by some basketball.
Time was most family occasions took place at our house. In 1983 my father, a partner in BSK Pediatric Surgical Associates, moved us from Queens to Nassau, "away from civilization," I complained at age 8. In fact, our block was brand new, our house one of the first built.
When on-call, which was most of the time, my father would wake up in total darkness, answering the phone in a maximum of two rings. He would have instant coffee and a navel orange and be on his way. Luckily I got to know the sounds of him getting up, and I'd sit with him before he left.
My father was a Yankee fan, but he never played baseball with the kids at school functions. That was okay. He was working. My father enjoyed gardening and fishing; I didn't. My father never praised me while I was in earshot. That was okay. I understand now how important it was to him that I carry myself properly. While my mother would do anything to help me, my father wanted me to do as much as I could. It was a good parenting mix.
Growing up, I often argued with my father and complained to my mother about his sternness. Behind it, I wanted nothing more than to meet his standards. Only later would I look back on our time together and understand how much he loved me, so much he never found the words. Perhaps as a doctor, my father knew how precious life was, and with the time he had, he'd motivate his sons all he could.