Recent Posts for the 'Relationships' Category

My Favorite Father: A Tribute to My Brother Paul

Friday, June 15th, 2018

NOTE: My four siblings and I always called our father “Daddy.” Thus, this essay focuses on a father, my brother Paul. My father will always just be “Daddy” to me.

 

Knopf Family Photo (Left to right): My older brother Paul, me, my younger brother Harry, my younger sister Rosie, and my older sister Phyllis. Time: mid-to-late 1940s.

Growing up, we didn’t see much of our dad. As the owner of a gas station and repair shop, he worked from very early in the morning until well after dinnertime. He was what we now call a workaholic, laboring seven days each week, 52 weeks of the year, to support our mom and their five growing children, so we did not see much of him. Thus, I did not witness much in the way of “fathering,” other than my mom saying, “Wait ’til your Daddy comes home,” when we misbehaved. We knew he was there as a loving, stable presence in all our lives, but nevertheless, his work ethic left him very little time for hands-on parenting. That was more our mom’s role.

Not so my brother Paul, my older sibling by 20 months. We grew up together, dating each other’s friends. Fortunately for me, he married one of my girlfriends from a different high school. We lived in a separate school district from many of our friends and I met Carol at the local Jewish Y, where we both joined a girls’ club.

Full Family Photo from Paul’s Bar Mitzvah (1949) – Left to right (back row): Paul, our dad David, Phyllis, our mother Bea.  (L. to R. Fr0nt row): me, my sister Rosie and my brother Harry.
(I hated our taffeta dresses!)

 

Even though my first husband and I lived too far away from Paul and Carol to see them often, every time we did visit, I was subconsciously aware of how well-behaved and quiet spoken his three children were. Growing up, my siblings and I were a noisy bunch and there was also lots of yelling from my mom. Not so at Paul’s and Carol’s home. Maybe this is because Carol herself is soft-spoken, or because Paul seemed to have the patience of Job. Either way, it was a peaceful place to visit.

Whatever the reason, I admired how he and Carol were raising their kids. At his funeral last year, his daughter Rachel remarked how her father never raised his voice to his three children. Unfortunately, my kids cannot say the same about my parenting techniques!

And, unlike my dad, he was always home for dinner. Carol insisted on that. As a professor and later awarded a chair at Brown University in Providence, RI, he had his own lab where he did experiments with his graduate students studying for their PhDs.  Sometimes after dinner he would go back to his lab at Brown to check on his experiments, but family dinners came first. He loved his students and they loved him back. He was often voted the most popular “prof “of the year by his students. Paul made science enjoyable and understandable, spending several hours of preparation before each lecture, much like a minister does before a sermon. I went to one of his lectures six weeks into the semester and understood everything he taught. I was amazed at and impressed with his teaching skills.

His three children are all grown now, two with children of their own. Their love for their Dad was evident at his funeral, and my love for him grows each time I think about him. He was kind, considerate, patient and non-judgmental, all good traits for anyone, and especially for a father and grandfather.

Paul with his three grandsons

Paul earned his undergraduate degree and PhD. from M.I.T.; worked with Dr. Francis Crick, co-Nobel prizewinner for discovering DNA; and spent five years at the Salk Institute in California before becoming a professor at Brown. In addition, he had a keen sense of humor, loved puzzles (which was part of his passion for science, that is, putting together pieces of the puzzles of diseases, such as schistosomiasis,* his main research project); was an active advisor for The Progeria Research Foundation; enjoyed his family, especially his grandchildren; and was a stand-up guy, or as we say in Yiddish, a real “mensch.” (Note: My younger brother is also a great father, but he has lived too far away for me to witness his fathering traits up close.)

So for Father’s Day, my vote goes to my brother Paul, gone from the planet, but not from our minds and hearts. I miss him every day, but fortunately, he has passed on his knowledge, his patience, and his loving kindness for others onto his children and three male grandchildren, all of whom adored him. What more can one ask of any man or woman in this crazy world?

*https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/schistosomiasis/index.html

Apr 30, 2018 – Schistosomiasis, also known as bilharzia, is a disease caused by parasitic worms. Although the worms that cause schistosomiasis are not found in the United States, more than 200 million people are infected worldwide.

Happy Mother’s Day to Single Mom with Daughter: Coralie and Coral Torres

Sunday, May 13th, 2018

Note: When I separated from my husband of 3o years in 1990, my older two children were already living on their own with their partners, but I still had a third child at home (I was 41 when she was born.) So I became a single mom at age 51. Being a single mom was the most difficult job I ever took on, shouldering most of the child care, job search, moving, etc. When I met Coralie (a single mom) and her daughter Coral, I wanted to feature them for Mother’s Day, since they seem to be having the time of their lives as a mother/daughter family! Yay!  ellensue

 


Coralie (Cora for short) with daughter Coral

I met Cora and Coral at the fitness center where I swim indoors in the winter. Both women were in the same lane, with Cora teaching her daughter Coral swimming techniques. (Cora gave me a good tip, as well.) I learned that both were in training for events. Coral was working on a swimming meet and Cora was in training for a triathlon. Cora moved here from Puerto Rico and is a single mom with a passion for swimming.

I asked Cora to send me an update of the events she and her daughter are involved in. Here is what she sent:

This year I am training for two half-Ironman (70.3 miles): 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile run. 
 
– World Championship  South Africa in September 1st of 2018 in  Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa. This is the first time an IRONMAN World Championship event will be held on the African continent. 
 
– Atlantic City Ironman in September 23rd of 2018 (I will try to qualify for World Championship 2019 in Nice France)
 
I will be doing a few shorter distance triathlons  (Sprint and Olympic).
 
My daughter is doing (for the 1st time) a sprint distance women triathlon in Philly.  Women are taking over the City of Brotherly Love. The Inaugural Hand and Stone Women’s Philadelphia Triathlon is an all women’s sprint triathlon will feature a 400 meter swim in the Kelly Outdoor Pool, 9 mile bike on closed roads, and a scenic 5K (3.1 Mile run) through Fairmount Park. I am so excited and pumped up for her!!!   
 
 
 
I was selected in the promo picture for the Women’s Philly Tri. (See the great photo below. es)

Their enthusiasm was contagious. The link between them was palpable, so I asked Coral to send me information on her upcoming triathlon and some photos (See above and below). The photos are so good that I decided the pictures were even more descriptive of the mother/daughter relationship than the events. So here are more photos that show you how close these two women are as a family.

I celebrate them and all moms for Mother’s Day, especially single moms!

                             

 

P.S. My younger daughter and daughter-in-law moved back to the East Coast from Calif. only a few days ago. My older daughter is in Calif. and my son is in Nevada. This will be the first Mother’s Day in six years that I can spend with one of my children. I am ecstatic!

Happy Mother’s Day!

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