Friday, February 07, 2014

A Letter from "Oyster Shel"

My father, Sheldon Feuerstein, was a large presence in our lives and the lives of many others. He was a big man, physically (and, sadly, overweight for too many of his later years, which contributed to the diseases that led to his death in 2010), but it was more than that. He was smart and honest and eloquent. He could also be very stern and, before he passed middle age, manifested quite the temper. But he was a deeply compassionate man, especially for members of the family. Many nieces, nephews and cousins remember him with a love and deep fondness that sometimes surprises me.

Who knew that the man who insisted I throw away and redo my math homework because it had an erasure, who sent me up to bed without dinner because I did or wouldn't do [whatever], who demanded that I mow the 2/3 acre of a lawn even though I was wracked by allergies, could be so warmly encouraging and loving to my cousins? Ah, humans - such complicated creatures! :-)

I visited my mom in Florida last week (oh, the green! the sun! the warmth!) and we looked through my dad's stamp collection and many old papers stored in the safety deposit box.

Most of it was the "usual" - birth, death and marriage certificates, honorable discharge papers from the military (Dad was always disappointed that all he did as a soldier was move around to different bases in the US, never fought, served overseas. That's probably why he so looked up to his great Irving Effron, who was a Jewish Marine (quite unusual) and served in the Pacific. Check out this great NY Times letter about him - subscription probably required), and so on.

But then inside a small, old envelope, we found a real gem: a letter Dad had written to his oldest sister, Belle, and her husband, Max, just before he was going to be Bar Mitzvahed:



I especially love the line: "where would you stick Jeffrey?" The idea of "sticking" Jeffrey (another very large human being in multiple senses, and just thirtenn years or so younger than my dad) anywhere is very amusing....

Love you, Dad! Miss you, Dad!




No comments: