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Jewish World Review April 16, 2002 / 5 Iyar, 5762

Lenore Skenazy

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Consumer Reports

Chats of a lifetime | This piece is a love letter, so you might not want to read it unless you're my dad.

Or you have a dad.

I'm writing it, Pops, just because it was so great to talk to you last night.

It wasn't a heavy conversation, at least on the surface. Just some chipper chatter from me about the kids - how Izzy is making great buildings with his blocks and Morry is getting ready for his birthday (mostly by praying for a GameBoy).

Still, it was almost a shock to talk to you because, well, we hadn't been able to talk at all for a few weeks.

When you were in the hospital this most recent time, either you couldn't hear the phone or had no strength to pick it up. Hey, after three heart attacks and 86 years on Earth, who could blame you?

Then, in the 10 days or so after you returned home, you were sleeping whenever I called - or zoned out on drugs so strong that no one could reach you.

But I need to reach you.

I need you around, for my own, selfish reasons.

As the days mounted with you incommunicado, it finally dawned on me - at age 42! - just how awful it would be if I couldn't pick up the phone and talk to you.

I mean, all those years and years of conversations - about school, then work, then kids and now renting (I know, I know - you want us to buy!) - I enjoyed them, sure. But I took them for granted.

Completely! It seemed like such mundane stuff, I never stopped to analyze what was really going on in those chats. Which turns out to be pretty much what goes on when a gardener comes out, waters his plants and pulls up a few weeds.

Nothing dramatic. But those small gestures keep the flowers stretching for the sun.

Just knowing that you and mom cared about my life the way no one else could - right down to what I was making for dinner - kept me blossoming.

For thick-skulled folks like myself - children who love their parents desperately but never stop to think about it or ponder how all that love has given them the very softest of cushions on which to bounce through life - those calls weren't anything to be cherished.

Certainly I never played and replayed them the way I've been pressing "rewind" in my mind all day today. I just figured they'd keep on coming.

And then they didn't.

And I was lost.

And here's another truth: Last night when mom said you were actually sitting up at the kitchen table for the first time in days and she could put you on the phone, I was nervous!

I couldn't ask, "How are you?" because I didn't want to hear the answer.

And I couldn't blurt, "Dad, don't go!" because there you were, reaching for the phone just like the good ol' days.

So what could I say to a man who means so much, had seemed so far away, and then, miraculously, rallied for our millionth little, trivial, marvelous dinnertime chat?

I decided to try two of my favorite words, overwhelmed by the chance to say them again.

JWR contributor Lenore Skenazy is a columnist for The New York Daily News. Comment by clicking here.


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