2013: Posts are continuously translated and added to the blog with their original dates

Saturday, June 7, 2008

5. Dad's Visit

Dad came for a visit. He'll be 90 in 3 months. He travels by bus with his caregiver, with goulash soup, compote, apricot jam, and cake for his little girl. It's the least he can do to help her in her condition.
They came to say goodbye before their trip to Romania.

My dad is a man's man.
He survived WWII in Russia, digging trenches in the snow. He contracted typhus, and survived that too. He spent five years of his young adult life as a POW. He owes his life to his strong physical and mental conditioning.
He isn't very tall, but leaves the impression of a 6 footer. These days he resembles Kishon (a Hungarian born Israeli writer), and Peres (Israeli president).
A long time ago, he had dark wavy hair, muscles and style.
I remember that he was attacked by 5 dogs one night, and prevailed.
I, too, had the honor of experiencing his heavy hand, when I was six. Dad was teaching me how to write the number 8 in a single stroke, and I failed repeatedly. The next day, I proudly showed him my successful try. He demanded that I repeat the success in front of guests, but I failed again. Then came the slap on my face, which I never forgot. Because I lied! Throughout my life, I got 3 of these "educational" slaps.
Dad left his position as a Hungarian journalist after the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, because antisemitic demonstrators were screaming "Jews out!" He couldn't endure it one more time.
In Israel, he performed hard physical labor, which could possibly have contributed to his longevity. One time, a piece of asbestos roof fell on him. He walked away with superficial scratches to his head.
We had a chicken coop for our home use. Everyday, he slaughtered a chicken. He caught mice by the trail and drowned them in a water bucket.
He passed on to me his love of nature. On Saturdays, he used to take me and my girlfriends on walks in neighboring orchards. Or, we would go to the beach in Tantura (famous natural harbor beach South of Haifa), for the entire day. We set up a tent and spent the day in the water. He saved my life once, when I got caught in a current.
When I was small, he built me a wooden doll house, and stilts too, and a pedal powered car for my brother. He made a garden swing set for my kids.
On cold Saturday mornings, my brother and I would get into our parents' warm bed, settle under the down comforter, drink hot chocolate, and sing. In Hungarian. From time to time, I would see my parents dance to the sound of our record player. Dad taught me how to dance the waltz and the tango.
He prepped me for the military service. We used to run together for miles around our village.
The day I joined the military, he ran from Pardes Hanna (where we lived) all the way to the Caesarea Junction (at what is now Route 4) to wave me goodbye, as he knew we would pass by. When I used to come visit my parents with the kids, he would build a tent in the bedroom, and tell the kids stories he made up. He would place the kids at the steering wheel of a parked bus, prying open the bus door for them. When we would leave, he would chase our car until he couldn't see us any longer.
Eight years ago he had a stroke. He forgot the way home, his speech was garbled, and he forgot the game of Bridge he so loved. He healed himself on his own, without any medication. With the help of a computer, he regained his self and clarity of mind. It took a year. Bridge is the love of his life. He teaches and plays the game 5 days a week.
He had a mobile phone and a computer before I did. He kept nagging me about it, "How come every foreign worker in Israel has a mobile phone, but you don't", until I finally bought both.
He is a "newspaper worm". Every fragment of news interests him. During High School, he would lecture me about history, and teach me Karl Marks' theory. He had big plans for me, and trained me to think big, to see the big picture.
He jokes that he reads the paper in bed, because he falls asleep within 2 minutes, and if he were reading a book, he would hurt himself much worse, as the book would fall out of his hands.
He was always interested in women. His prior caregiver fell in love with him, and he had to replace her, because of her jealousy fits. She was a good-looking 50 year old blond chick.
He has a rare sense of humor. He is both full of jokes, and has a funny view of the world. His caregiver says she's laughing all day long. He also sings from morning till night. He is on his way to entertain his hosts in Romania  He won their hearts last year, telling stories about Israel, joking, and even organizing an evening of singing. They adored him, and he longs for that.
He'll visit the bathes, walk in the woods, eat what he loves - lots of butter, whipped cream, and espresso with 3 heaping spoons of sugar. He will sleep well, and make a routine out of this.

He came to say goodbye. He started the countdown 2 weeks ago.
Enjoy, my Daddy, for me too.
I love you very much.
Your little girl.

Translated by: Rina Shapira
Original Hebrew post published on June 7, 2008:  5. אבא בא לבקר

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