Sunday, August 3, 2008

Worshipping at the altar of my father...(his bedroom dresser)



Ever since I was a young girl, I was fascinated with each of my parent's bedroom dressers. It seemed to define each of them so distinctly. On long afternoons when I was escaping the sun, or taking shelter from rain, I would often find myself in their bedroom, standing in front of each of the dressers....worshipping at the altar of daddy or mommy...

I lost Dad in 1973, but my father's dresser was an altar, temple, church. His dresser, chest of drawers really, was very high and I had to stand on my tip toes for many years to get into the top drawer, adding to its mystery...initiates often had to "work" for their enlightenment and blessings and I was willing to do this. In the top drawer were various coins, old, and smoothed by years of being held. These were fascinating to me and always triggered thoughts of who had held them over the years and how they came to end up in my dad's possession and here, in our house, in his care...like me. There were also the candy mints, Certs. Lots of Certs. In the later years, I would leave Dad a package of sugar wafer cookies and take a package of Certs. The next day, the sugar wafers were gone, he had taken them to work with him, my gift accepted at the altar at Dad, and I would replace it with another, extracting another package of Certs. Also in the drawer were coupons from the backs of the cigarette packages he smoked. The joke was that if you saved enough coupons, you could afford the iron lung you would one day require from all of the smoking. He also had some pipe tobacco in there. The pipe I'm "smoking" in the pic is my dad's actual pipe, saved by my Mom all these years later and given to me on my last visit there. The combined smell of cigarettes, pipe tobacco, Certs and his lime deodorant was nothing short of the incense that must of filled the ancient temples mentioned in the old testament, which I read about quite a bit in the big family bible.. In the bottom drawer, the very very bottom drawer, was his yarmulke and silk, tassled prayer shawl. I asked him about these things once. Just. Once. He said it was for his death. He explained that he was a Levite. He was a direct descendant of the High Priests that worked in the temples of ancient Israel. I cannot even describe the effect this had on a little girl with dad-adoration and an overactive imagination, just beginning her own spiritual journey. I only opened that drawer a few times, but when I did, I was very respectful of the silk shawl....letting the tassels fall over and between my fingers...knowing that it would be with my father after me...This week my Dad would have been 96 years old. Solomon Katz, 96 years later and your influence and memory is alive and well sir...and that is SOMETHING. I called his brother this week, who is 90 years old, and asked him to sing "My Yiddishe Mama" to me, which he did beautifully, even hitting the high note. That song made him and Dad a little weepy, because it so accurately described their mother. I wish I had a song for my Dad. I don't. But I have this entry, and my memories, and his pipe.

2 comments:

Eliot Bowman said...

I always wish I could have met him in mortality. I suppose it makes the wait all the more exciting...and more worth it now that we can share our testimonies with one another.

TT said...

what a wonderfully perfect use of words! You took me right back to Northtowne Blvd. I love you!