(cross-posted on Kos)
In the 1950’s, my Dad was the head counselor at a summer camp in in Pennsylvania. About 10 years ago, I ran into a friend who had gone to the camp. After reminiscing for a few minutes, I asked him if he would like me to give his regards to my father. His answer:
“Don’t give him my regards.” He paused. “Give him my respect.”
The comment captured his larger-than-life presence for generations of kids at summer camps and at the schools where he was a teacher and principal.
My Dad died on October 24 at the age of 91. He was a quintessential member of the “Greatest Generation.” Born in 1916 to immigrant parents, he made it through the Depression, went to City College, served in W.W. II, took advantage of the G.I. Bill, raised a war baby (my big brother) and a boomer (me), moved to an “urban suburb” (Rockaway Beach, NY), worked two jobs — teacher and principal; and camp counselor and director.
Also, between 1973 and last month, he tenaciously and courageously fought his way through several heart attacks, a couple of “mini-strokes,” two multiple bypass surgeries, carotid artery surgery, gall bladder surgery (with complications), knee surgery and loss of most of his sight and hearing. But another heart attack on January 1, 2007 began a series of events that even he could not withstand.
In the Emergency Room that night, the doctor asked a series of questions to test his cognitive functions: He aced “What’s your name?” and “What’s your wife’s name?” Then the doctor asked “Who’s the President?”
His reply: “We have a President?”
We knew then that his mental functioning was fine.