Making Family Memories


Here’s how my brain works connecting dots from one to another. Last weekend I went to a good friend’s 50th birthday party. It was a surprise for her and everyone had a great time. At one point during the party, someone I didn’t know before told my wife and me that we didn’t look old enough to have a sixteen year old. Later on that night, I was doing the math on how old our son will be when I turn 50. That brought to mind my father’s own 50th birthday party which was at their neighborhood’s clubhouse. The last time I was there was at the tail end of Dementia and a New Normal. We had to have the police pick up my father who’d bought a gun and was having a serious break with reality. I met the police along with my mother at that same clubhouse near the house I grew up in, helped build an approach to getting him out of the house without anyone getting hurt, and stayed there until we got an “all clear” message. It’s interesting how those points of light can connect themselves in my head and it’s scary how my fathers’ lights have dimmed.

Yo and Andy
An early picture of my father and my youngest son.

Of course, that’s one deep memory which is now directly tied to something more recent which puts an entirely different perspective on it. These all become part of our collective family memories and are there for context when new ones are formed. We’re about to have another round of memories which will be inevitably tied to this current situation. My younger son is turning thirteen and his bar mitzvah is upon us this month. He’s worked hard, studied, and practiced – the weekend will be about him and his personal growth. There’s still going to be the presence – or lack thereof – of my father; my son’s grandfather. With the treatments my dad is on, he’s either too out of it or too aggressive. The logistics of getting him to the event in a suit would be complicated at best. Given his lack of insight and awareness, it would be for the rest of us rather than him. We’ve decided that there is too much potential downside rather than upside for us.

Yo and the boys
A few years later. My dad and kids.

Part of my job for the weekend is going through pictures from the last thirteen years and making a montage video. My father’s a part of those images and there are so many good ones of him with my boys. They’ll be a part of the experience but we’re at a crossroads. Part of the ceremony involves passing the Torah from generation to generation; from grandparents to the child who’s having he bar mitzvah. The next round of family pictures won’t have my dad in them – but the memories will.

Nate's bar mitzvah
Three and a half years ago things looked different – but they were beginning to change.
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3 thoughts on “Making Family Memories

  1. Eric, I know this will be bittersweet, not having your dad there at Andy’s big day. It sounds like you’ve weighed the options and the downsides outweigh the ups. So I think you and Suzanne just need to be at peace with the decision, knowing you tried. And don’t let that take away from this mitzvah.

    1. We really did, Karen. That’s where I said that this would be for us more than him. We weighed the logistics, the inevitable distraction, and the possibility of something awkward (or worse) happening and decided against it. It just wouldn’t work out and we’ve got to be satisfied with the decision.
      Thanks for the support, you summed it up well.

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