I know these facts: (about my Father and women)
He was one of 5 boys.
His mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, while pregnant with her 6th child and passed shortly after her last delivery. His sister, the baby, grew up with their aunt and uncle; a childless couple. He grew up in a houseful of boys; his high school and college were not coed.
As an adult, Dad found buxom Jewish women fascinating, small breasted Wasps derisively amusing and any reasonably pretty Italian female a cause for maudlin musing. Short Irish women were a wife or in-laws and cause for worry.
His first sex was with a WWII widow. Drunk, he told this story once. She a waitress, he a teenaged busboy and it was at a Jersey Shore resort. Years later I heard or read or saw in a movie a very similar recount and had an awful moment of disappointment; I believe there were a few widows and busboys in the 40s and hope he told me a true story.
In his 20s, as an army medic, he was stationed in postwar Germany. Most of his practice was treating troops for STDs, which held no special terror for him. He knew the symptoms and the cure, and I imagine him a bit wistful at missing out on Mexican and European whores as Mother followed him to Texas for basic and then to Europe.
In his early 30s, after losing another secretary to marriage, he went looking for a replacement on his own. He invaded the typing pool harem with a sample of his deplorable handwriting and came out with a homely overweight girl, a tactical decision. Their relationship spanned four decades, and he treated her right. Eventually, she made more money than many of the associates in the firm.
In his late 30s we hiked Yosemite and at the top of El Capitan we came upon two hippie sprites skinny dipping. Thin, 60s breasted and fully thatched, they invited us to join them. Dad urged my brother and me to strip down to our tighty-whities and swim. Years later I cannot listen to “Highway 51” without pondering how tempted he must have been to pitch us off the mountain. I imagine any man turning 39 in 69 ached to tune into “Free Love“. 35 years later I heard myself quoting him “I’m not saying we have to lie to your Mother, but I am suggesting that she doesn’t really need to know all the details”
In his 60s PopPop scammed an Upper East Side apartment, at an extraordinary price, as part of signing an extended lease on an office at 53rd and Park in his capacity as managing partner. This coincided with the onset of women’s sensible solution of commuting in running shoes with business attire and donning heels just before going into the office. Pantyhose was out and, unfortunately for Dad, this predated thongs. Dad decided to extend his physical fitness regimen beyond tennis and using the subway stairs and started walking 20 some blocks downtown to the office. He explained, to get up to speed, he would lock onto a pacer, one of these young women in running shoes. I can see him; tracking her busy haunches beating a hortatory pace. I want it to have been a symbiotic relationship; the prey sensing the predator honed her danger sense and they realized extra cardiovascular exertion as she sped up to gain some distance. Give Dad credit, when I asked him if he considered that he might be causing these young women angst, he assured me he was certain that if they were even aware of his pursuit, they were flattered by his attention.
After Mother passed, Dad went on several dates with a very well put together woman of his age and independent means. After three dates she suggested they get married in a sensible manner. The idea of a woman his age repulsed him: in his mind she was much older than he. Rather than opting for dignity and class, he opted instead for a (married) woman half his age that would “help him live forever”. Everyone else felt she was a gold digger; he saw “the fountain of youth”.
[This really drove a wedge between him and I until I had my epiphany- He wouldn’t listen to me when Was 16 and knew everything, why would he listen to me in my 40s when I knew shit?]
In his early 70s Dad, this 2nd wife, and my infant 1/2 brother insinuated themselves into a family Disney (World) vacation. [We had found out about her on my children’s first visit to Disney (Land) 5 months after my Mother passed]. On the first day she’s in 1/2 a panic about where he might be. Worried, maybe as only the other woman can be, maybe as only a 30 something woman married to a 68-year-old can be. I tell her I know he is up ahead and she gets a little petulant about my certainty. I passively aggressive, explain, “He’s going to be up this way a bit, sitting in the sun. He’s going to be talking to a woman- 16 or 60, healthy or halt, luscious or lame, I’m not sure which combination, but I guarantee he will be sitting and chatting with a woman. You’ve been doing this for a few years; I’ve been doing it for over 40.” There he was chatting up some low rent, high mileage cut down Anna Nicole Smith knock off. Uncharitably, I thought, “Welcome to our world”.
At 79 PopPop suffered a lonely and humiliating death as most of us do. It took too long; he had signed on for a massive heart attack on the tennis court. A minor traffic accident led to the discovery of his cancers weeks before it would have been too late. He prepared for death understanding that for his infant daughter he would be no more real than the Santa with whom her picture was taken. At the end, he cursed his big breasted Jewess Tennis Pro for running around on him in the Carrera she had bought for herself with his money and ranted at her for not having sex with him, despite his diapers. His most intimate moments were with hospice nuns, whose names he never knew, who eased morphine suppositories into his rectum.
All his life he took precautions against death which was contagious and this led to his being less than attentive to his wife in her last days. In his last years he was a terrified peasant boy unprepared to meet my mother, her mother and his mother on the other side; a hell of female censure awaiting him kept him alive for years past his expiration date. While he was a man of science, who claimed to be an atheist, he never passed on taking communion at any type of Christmas Mass he attended.
On his last day he was seduced and serenaded in Spanish by brown-skinned women. They refused to believe that with his surname he didn’t speak their natal and maternal langue and knew he understood it on a genetic level. His wife supposedly spelled me at his bedside for his last night, but when I walked over at 01:00 she was not around. He died with the TV on to the play-by-play of his beloved women’s tennis. His sole relative present was a son who couldn’t help but think that had he been a better son he would have put a pillow over his face weeks before.
Or maybe, just maybe, in his mind he died surrounded by all of his children including the three miscarriages Mother had in Germany. Mother’s children were all wealthy and well-adjusted; his infant children were bright and full of hope. His Grandchildren were all ready to aid their half-uncle and aunt in their grief and would regale them for years to come with tales of PopPop’s generosity and wisdom. At the end he followed one of those sneakered business girls down a bright hall with a hippie girl on each arm into the waiting arms of Mother and his Mother.
My Note…. When my Father was first diagnosed with these awful cancers I went to visit him and asked four questions:
- Did he want to go see a shark cartilage/apricot pit alternative medicine doctor/healer?
- Did he want to go see a priest?
- Did he want a gun
- Did he want to start accumulating enough pain killers to end it on his own terms?
He vociferously said no to all four. The healer and the priest ideas were absurd as he was a scientist. He hated guns and knew that suicide was a venal sin. He relied on me to see that no heroic measures were taken and I suspect he relied on me to use the pillow as well.
Theology [from 09]
I’ve been out here in CA for a week as my Dad slipped away-
We’ve been here before to say goodbye, but this time was the real deal.
I take a break yesterday afternoon to get some fresh air- nothing had changed in hours, and a gaggle of women had just come in to clean him up and shave him.
I call my friend the doctor to ask him if he has any idea how long a man in Dad’s situation could hang on.
Among other things Tom tells me that while he’s fallen away from organized religion, he’s become more certain there is a God.
His reasoning being- while he has become expert in all things scientific and medical in the past 25 years, every time he tries to predict how long someone will last he is not even in the ballpark. He has come to understand that this is God laughing at his hubris.
And then I hear one of the attendants step out the door calling me and waving for me to hurry.
And Dad is gone in 15 minutes…………
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- Mother Would Be 79 Today (standup2p.wordpress.com)