My First Teacher

There is a picture of my father, preserved now only in memory, suspended in mid air. He is lithe, perfectly brown and arched against the air that seemed to carry him on its currents. Thinking back, Aunt Barbara must’ve taken the picture but how she managed to place herself somewhere above at at an unobstructed distance is unimaginable.

Before we three girls were born, he was a high diver, postal carrier, softball player, car aficionado. Though he wanted nothing more than children, we have the suspicion he was not the marrying kind. Fortunately, our mother wanted nothing more than him.

After they married, our parents, either by circumstance or by means of some invisible switch that gets thrown when one becomes a parent, all but forgot about who they were and what they had wanted before we arrived on the scene. I say all but forgot because our mother resurrected her dreams with regular trips to B. Altman’s & Co. department store, strolls down 5th Avenue and the occasional purchase of costume jewelry. Our father took us to the beach, the ballpark and taught me, at least, how to drive.

He was in many ways my first teacher. It was he who taught me how to tie my shoes, read a watch and another’s character. It is his elegance, courage and high expectations, all captured in that long-lost photo that continue to encourage me whenever despair threatens.

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