by Jan Singer
When we first started Konenkii we began to think about the challenges of getting older. What does it really mean to age fearlessly? Is it hiding wrinkles or wearing bold stripes? Sometimes. But as we know it goes deeper down into our souls.
One of my struggles comes from being an adult orphan. I lost my Mom ten years ago when I was going through my own breast cancer treatment. I lost my Dad in my twenties when my TV career was just taking off. Though these experiences have helped shape me they didn’t come easy.
As we approach Father’s Day this year I remember my Dad with love and affection. It’s hard to believe that I have lived longer without him than with him. I still feel him in my life everyday reflected in the way I view the world. His unyielding love for me and my mom and my sisters showed me how to be a family.
He never met my husband nor my children and that is a sadness I hold in me. He was a terrific guy and we had a wonderful relationship. That too I hold in me. For years I was unable to talk about him with my own children without welling up. That I inherited from him. I saw him cry long before I ever saw my mom shed tears.
I miss him most this time of year. Not just because it’s Father’s Day. My Dad was a Boy of Summer. Baseball for him came in all shapes and sizes. Playing on teams with his brothers, cousins and friends, coaching Little League and Babe Ruth, umpiring, and following his beloved Red Sox. Because I was one of three daughters, his only children were unable to play officially on any team back then. But under his tutelage we could pitch, catch, and steal second.
Every July we spent two uninterrupted weeks at the cottage swimming, canoeing, rowing a boat, diving off the high board, playing games, no TV, just lots of together time. My dad was the hero of our summers. He taught me to count quickly by fives in cribbage, pitch a wicked wiffle ball and scare myself silly with Ripley’s Believe it or Not books. We got to make our own submarine sandwiches, drink soda, eat strawberries until we broke out in hives and stay up late talking and laughing and drinking in our lives.
I’m lucky to have married a man who has embraced my history. And so this tradition carries with me to my own family even though ours has taken on a slightly different time and place. The aim is true.
And as I prepare to pack the car for our annual trek north, I think of how important this is for me. Creating continuity from one generation to the next, giving us an exclusive shorthand of memories, a unique connection to one another.
Though my Dad passed way too soon, he will be with us in the truest spirit of what summer means for us. Creating a lasting legacy for summers to come.