Missing My Father

Last year I posted an article entitled I Remember Daddy. This year I write a little more personally about missing my father while he was alive as well as after he died.


My memories of my dad, David Knopf, are scant and selective. After fathering five children in seven and one half years, he spent seven days a week, 12 hours per day, working at his gas station/garage to support his family. I grew up in the era before most women had careers other than housewife, but no one else in our neighborhood had an absentee father like mine. I still miss him.

Daddy was gone in the morning before we left for school and came home after we climbed into bed. My mother made him lunch and delivered it to him daily. In the summer, I would often ride to the station/garage with her to deliver his lunch. It always included iced coffee, which I still love to drink as part of holding onto his memory. In this way I had a few minutes of his time between customers coming for gas or repairs. And on Sundays, he slept a little later before going to work and the five of us would gather ‘round him on the bed, savoring and sharing those moments with him.

A few personal, important memories remain. Daddy would close shop only three days per month: the Jewish High Holidays of Rosh Hoshanah and Yom Kippor. (On Passover, he would work until it was time for the Seder.) I remember walking to synagogue with him one Rosh Hoshanah when I was still in grammar school. It was a hefty walk and my little legs could not keep pace with his long strides. I felt like a panting dog running after his master. My father was totally unaware of how fast he was walking and I didn’t even have enough breath to tell him to slow down. But we made it.

A wonderful memory is Dad’s Day when I was in college. He did take off to be my “date” for the day. I knew closing the garage meant one less day to earn a living, so I was particularly pleased that he thought coming to Dad’s Day was so important. I felt important! And proud. He was so handsome, reminding me of the then-popular actor Glenn Ford. That day will always be special to me.

Sadly, the only large block of time I spent with him was when he was diagnosed with colon cancer. He was in a hospital in St. Louis where my younger brother was a doctor and I flew out to be with him since he could not attend my son’s bar mitzvah. I had three whole days with him and despite the circumstances, I treasure those three days when we just sat and talked, something we had never done alone.

My father had a good sense of humor, loved children, and enjoyed his wine on special occasions. Whenever there was a wedding or bar mitzvah in the family that permitted him to take a few hours off, he would drink and dance with his three daughters until we had to drag him off the floor. My mom’s left leg was weak and she could not dance, so he twirled around his three girls, laughing and smiling at everyone watching Dave do his thing. While I had to share him with my two sisters, it did not dilute the happiness I felt.

My most precious memory is the day I went to Jewish New Year services with my youngest child, when she was about six months old. We named her after my mother, who had died a few years before. My mother’s name was Beatrice (Basha in Yiddish). We named our daughter Beth, but somehow the Yiddish name Basha was what we actually called her. My father took the sleeping baby in his arms and walked around the synagogue, ignoring the chanting and praying going on, and showed his new granddaughter to everyone, telling them she was named after his late wife. I felt as though I had been touched by an angel in the form of my father.

I know Dave Knopf loved his children and grandchildren with his whole heart. I only wish he could have understood that his presence in our lives was more important than providing us with the best of everything he could afford. These few memories are too few, and maybe that’s why they are so precious. And I still miss him.

Here is photo that Women’s Voices for Change used for my essay on my mom,  (http://womensvoicesforchange.org/countdown-to-mothers-day-diamond-bea-knopf-big-bawdy-and-bodacious.htm), but I wanted to include it to show you my father when he was much younger than the photo above. I am the one second forklift in the front row, with my essay hair, google glasses and terrible socks with sandals!

10 thoughts on “Missing My Father

  1. Ellen Sue… thank you so much for sharing this wonderful tribute to your dad. Of course I have tears in my eyes now, for your dad and for mine as well. Our stories are similar. My dad returned from WWII and fathered four children in five years. He was a carpenter, a hard job in a place where winters were harsh and spring long coming. I remember often running to meet him as he walked home from work with his lunch can in hand. He passed away in the late 1970s. One would think all the sorrow would have left me by now, but that is not the case. For any talents or special gifts that I possess, I clearly see a direct line back to my parents. You too can surely see that with your dad, and your mom too I am sure. So, thankfully, they have not really left us at all. Thank you, ES, for being you! love, -sylvia

  2. Many can identify with you, I like the fact you included a picture of your father in his T-shirt,
    someone, who spent most of his years working to support his family. Not unusual for the time
    when men’s major contribution was their work ethic enabling them to support their family, During
    the war years, when dad worked at a Defense Plant, I remember my mother waking us up so we
    could spend time with him, because he left before we were up, and came home after we were in bed.
    It takes a lot of love to make such a great sacrifice, but unlike your dad, I was able to spend the last ten years of my father’s life with him, either living here with us or at Personal Care Facility when his dementia coupled with recovering from breast cancer, melanoma, and basal cell caring for him
    was just too exhausting. But I learned a great deal as you must have when he was hospitalized.

  3. Very touching, Ellen Sue. Glad that you had a Douglass Dad’s Day memory to share with us. Loved the photo, especially Rosie’s dimples — so cute!.

  4. Yes, I did have him for three whole days while I visited hymn in the hospital and they were precious! Our generation of dads were very hard workers and did not see much of their family. es

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