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My Beloved Father Was Born on September 13 in 1913 – Honoring Him

September 13, 2017

My Beloved Father was born on September 13, 1913.  Honoring Him

He was a mensch   for real in every way full of grace, of sustenance for all life, a devoted gentle spirit, who could do nothing wrong, his accolades touched the lives of everyone who he knew, his deep abiding love of nature, of living in rhythm with every other being no matter what they did or how it effected him, he loved compassionately as a person who reflects on the radiance of everyone who he knew,  whether his children or his parents, or his grandchildren, no one was exempt, his co-workers, his mentors, all of those who he came across in the course of his life, he had deference for the least and for the most of people, no matter what their circumstances, nor their outlook, he had a high regard for their promise and worth, he lived with dignity a spirit of humility supplicating for better or worse with his younger brother and his wife, people who often upset him he continued to regard with respect and dignity for as long as they lived and when he died there were no adversaries, none who rebuked him for any fault or misdeed, no one loved Frederick more than I.  

His departure was inevitable he had been ill for many years with COPD  emphysema.  He died in 1989 in May in the heat of the early evening while struggling to catch his breath as he climbed the 14 stairs to his bedroom. In his last moments he collapsed his heart could not bear the burden anymore.  In large part mine stopped beating in response to his departure. I could not fathom that such a person would leave.  Certainly, it was not his will.  He never complained about anything.  His wife Elise doted over him but he was resilient whether or not anyone acknowledged his presence.  He was always my greatest champion.  He stayed with me lovingly sweetly holding me until I was calm.  When I went anywhere it was his first desire to come and stay with me. He was present in every one of my adventures taking me places that I had never been nor ever would dare to go and for my part I wanted him to be with me wherever I loved and wanted him.  He was my constant companion always.


I treated my father badly.  I never reciprocated openly what it meant to have his confidence, his devotion, his sustenance, his grace, his finite gifts that went far beyond duty as a father.  There was nothing that I ever did that was enough to adore him.  I harmed him treated him badly most of my life did not honor the gracious gifts that he bestowed on me, acknowledge what they meant or what he meant to me  I expected these loving tributes and was petulant as a young head strong, sick child is, who is manic-depressive and self absorbed.  When he died I was through with this world. After he died not much mattered.  I did not realize at the time how he had tucked me in tenderly embraced me kissed me made me feel calm safe serene knowing that I would see him every day no matter what.  I became used to the affection of his touch and his gentleness.  I never met another male or otherwise who possessed such tender mercy, such grace, such willingness to be a partner in life’s divine comedy

I now suspect and accept that I never will.  He was my champion;  my companion my everything and I could not bear to lose whatever he offered to me:  his opera, his music, his food, his camping trips on his paltry vacations, his Friday night forays, his movies, his lap, his bed time stories, his tucking me in, his unqualified love that has glowed and whispered in my heart all of these years.  How do you pay tribute to a mensch?

 You do this by witnessing all of the blessings that he unveiled in a wilderness of the spirit that had a yawning, gaping, unbearable lightness of being like mine,  and at last remind yourself that his name is written in the Book of the Dead . You must utter the name as a mantra until you are unable to lift a sound from your heart and faithfully say, “amen” anon until the echoes reverberate in all you do and in whatever you bear witness to that makes sense or not.  What matters most is the observance of the infinite in one who came to welcome you in this murky cauldron of life.


What do you utter in response to the gnawing loss of one who scarcely you could believe ever was here?  You wait listening for his footsteps.  You wait expectantly to listen, to stand patiently before him.  You reach to pull out the chair for him to sit. You ask him gently if he would like tea?  You offer him kindness and be present as you would anyone or thing that is sacred.  You realize that these fleeting gifts are enough to matter when one is sick and frail to remember what is most important,  to be here for another as long as this blessing of his presence is offered.  “Amen,” you utter anon,   “amen.”

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It was as always from my guts  percolating for decades seeping through every pore every remembered interlude that we shared and even now remembering how beautiful he was and is in my memory.  His photograph is the first in my Facebook and I never feel it is tired or worn out.  funny how he affected my consciousness and I fret that when I’m done no one will recall how beautiful he was.


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​This is him too when he was in Italy    I love the close connection he had to animals and his favorite dog.  His appreciation of the mundane was especially poignant.  ​He witnessed two children playing on the street and being blown to bits by unexploded ordnance.  The experience disturbed him the rest of his life.


Today would have been my father’s 103rd birthday. It IS his birthday. My father’s name was Frederick Loeb. He was a kind, gentle man — a true “gentleman” — gracious, patient, thoughtful and generous. To those who didn’t know him, this may sound like hyperbole. It isn’t. He loved books and music. He loved his garden, and most of all, he loved his family. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for us. I last saw him a few days before he died. It was Mother’s Day, and my mother, my brother and our children were all together at my brother’s home in the country. As we drove back to my parents’ house in suburban Philadelphia, my father suggested stopping at a favorite place along the way for ice cream. He was too sick and frail to get out of the car, but he thought we would like it. And we did. That’s the way he was. Always thinking of others. Always. To the end. To the very end. One of my memories of him is this: He was using a hose to water the tomato plants in my parents’ garden. The sun was behind him, shining through the spray, surrounding him with rainbows.

Happy Birthday, Dad. I love you.


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