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A Wonderful Father

Shortly after Jutta and I were married, I took her to New York to meet my parents. They were enchanted by her, but I noted as I hugged my father hello just how frail he seemed. Two days after our arrival, he was admitted to Flower Fifth Avenue hospital. As I walked into his room the next day, he smiled as he saw me and said with the wonderment of a little boy, "Richard, do you know that everyone in the hospital knows you’re here?"

I smiled back and said, "Yes, Pop, I know." I’d made him proud of me and enjoyed watching him bask in the glow. All the years of hell I must have put him through finally paid off for him. We had a wonderful and quiet visit, probably the best time we ever spent together. As I got up to leave, I leaned over to kiss him. He took my hand in a tight grasp. I looked down at him and said, "You’re a wonderful father. Goodbye, Pop." He squeezed my hand and I could see tears welling in his eyes.

Jutta and I stayed in New York for a few more days then flew back to California. Two days later my mother called. Dad had passed on that afternoon. He was seventy-eight.

She told me not to come to New York. She was going to have him cremated, then take his ashes to upstate New York where they both had vacationed often before I was born. She wanted to be alone with him one last time and scatter the ashes in the woods where they took evening walks.

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