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Monday, December 04, 2006

What gift do you give to a man...

... who has traveled (tfu tfu tfu) 75 times around the sun?

... who, a child of the depression, raised himself from modest beginnings to be a man of letters, learning and culture?

... who has borne with silent reserve the pain of losing his only sibling during his most formative years?

... who served his country when called upon, and as a value lesson to his progeny, returned from Korea without war stories but with many beautiful canvasses he had painted?

... who selected wisely among all the eligible women in New York the only one who could possibly have been his life partner and perfect helpmate in creating and rearing four such unique and, um, challenging children?

... who imbued his home with such an atmosphere of erudition and culture that even those of his children who eschewed the fruits of formal education [looks around innocently] emerged from childhood miraculously steeped in the classics... and anything but provincial?

... who, despite having been raised essentially without a father, created an enviable example of fatherhood for his sons to feebly emulate?

... who, during many 'lean years', never once allowed his children to feel anything but absolute security?

... who conspired with his wise and patient wife to raise four children so different as to be like points on a compass... yet successfully made each feel that he/she was the one that 'turned out right'?

... who waged, and ultimately lost, the battle against vision loss in the prime of his life, yet never once allowed partial blindness to limit or define him?

... who, despite having been raised without a grandfather, instinctively knew how to become the perfect mentor, friend and confidant to each and every one of his many grandchildren?

... who, together with his wife, learned in retirement how to indulge in, and enjoy the relative prosperity with which they had been blessed?

Yesterday was his 75th birthday and I felt terrible that I didn't have the answer to these questions.  My sense of personal indebtedness to the man sometimes weighs me down and makes me feel unworthy... like someone shopping in the 'Five & Dime' for a gift suitable for royalty. 

What could possibly be good enough?  What could he possibly want or lack?

In the end, I decided to bring him my family. 

I brought him one of his daughters-in-law and three of his grandchildren to dote on him and lavish him with hugs and kisses... and love.

I brought him a punch bowl full of 'well-spiced' eggnog and a dish of Zahava's sinful triple-layer brownies to satisfy his sweet-tooth.

And at the end of the evening, when it was time to go, I slipped him a butterscotch candy and a familiar kiss.  But in truth, the candy was a trifling down-payment on the countless butterscotches he has given me over the years... and the kiss was simply a crafty excuse to feel the evening stubble on his cheek and inhale his familiar paternal pheromone.

I left their Jerusalem apartment (which already feels like home) feeling that, once again, I had taken without giving.  On the drive home, while the kids watched a movie in the back of the car and Zahava sat beside me silently watching the roadside lights slip by and by and by, I realized that what I really should have given him was my heartfelt thanks for being my father and for helping to make me who I am today. 

Maybe when he reads this he'll know.


Posted by David Bogner on December 4, 2006 | Permalink


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Simply beautiful. I think you chose the best gift in the end, and this touching and vital tribute makes it all the sweeter. Your dad sounds like the prototype for all dads on their best day. May he have many more opportunities to hear how much his son looks up to him in years to come....beautifully expressed, David..

Posted by: mcaryeh | Dec 4, 2006 4:57:08 PM

and a happy 75th, Mr. Bogner!

Posted by: mcaryeh | Dec 4, 2006 4:58:49 PM

So beautiful....your wonderful family and all your accomplishments are a tribute to the wonderful person your Dad is. Happy B-day Mr. Bogner!

Posted by: Essie | Dec 4, 2006 5:38:33 PM

Yomuledet Sameach, (S)Aba Bogner! Ad 120!

Lucky Trep, a good excuse to eat cake two days in a row. ;)

Posted by: Account Deleted | Dec 4, 2006 6:04:07 PM

You should record this post for him to listen to. He sounds just amazing. Ad 120

Posted by: Annie | Dec 4, 2006 7:02:24 PM

Beautiful. Happy Birthday to the Patriarch of the Bogner clan.

Posted by: Jack | Dec 4, 2006 7:06:57 PM

You lucky man! what a Dad (ad mea vesrim) what a Dad!

hope you celebrate many many happy ocassion together.

Posted by: savta yaffa | Dec 4, 2006 7:11:12 PM

What a beautiful son-to-father tribute. You are a lucky son but he is a lucky father too.

Posted by: Isabelle | Dec 4, 2006 7:17:25 PM

David... Eloquently put and just beautiful. You shoulda put a 5-tissue warning on it, though! ;)
He's some kind of man - our father.

Posted by: val | Dec 4, 2006 7:28:42 PM

Definitely a beautiful tribute... and I think it makes a great gift in itself. Happy Birthday to your father! : )

Posted by: Irina | Dec 4, 2006 8:59:46 PM

Does he have a light for his toilet seat? : )

You are a good son and are blessed to have such a father.

Posted by: Alice | Dec 4, 2006 9:11:38 PM

mazal tov...what a wonderful post...you gave him what he couldn't buy...love...respect...family...a sweet...and a kiss...each one priceless...ahd meah como essrim

Posted by: marallyn | Dec 4, 2006 10:29:01 PM

Beautiful post. Kleenex-worthy.

Posted by: Ezer Knegdo | Dec 4, 2006 10:39:52 PM

Very beautiful. You are a fortunate man.

Posted by: mochassid | Dec 5, 2006 12:17:58 AM

A very touching tribute and a true gift from the heart. Kol HaKavod.

Posted by: Yaron | Dec 5, 2006 4:57:57 AM

A Bloggy Tribute like this would be gift enough for me; having my son and his family around me would make it all the sweeter.

Mazel Tov to your Dad for making those 75 trips around the sun...and for having a son who expresses himself so beautifully!

Posted by: Elisson | Dec 5, 2006 6:52:29 AM

David, no doubt your father will appreciate this post, your heartfelt sentiments.
Better than any Hallmark, American Greetings or Blue Mountain birthday card I've ever seen!

Mr. Bogner, "Sr.": "Bis 120." May you be surrounded by the love of your family and friends for many years to come...and remain healthy to enjoy all those many years to come.

Posted by: Pearl | Dec 5, 2006 7:28:55 AM

Hi, I was directed here by Val, she proudly told me to check out her brother's tribute to dad :-)

That was beautiful. I can feel the love and bond you guys have even through the page. You brought tears to my eyes just reading it and made me think of how proud I am of my own parents, although they never got to reach such a great age.

Thank you so much for sharing, it really was a pleausure to read.

Take care

Posted by: The Mad Hatter | Dec 5, 2006 6:19:59 PM

a priceless tribute to a priceless man---the embodiment of the word "Mensch" -- May he grace you with his presence for many long and happy years!

Posted by: aliyah06 | Dec 5, 2006 6:44:53 PM

That was beautiful. Mazal tov and many happy returns!

Posted by: Rahel | Dec 6, 2006 10:10:54 PM

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