At this moment sitting at the Shabbat table alone, watching the sunset with dogs at my feet, I feel grateful. There is a feeling of my heart for my children now together in Australia and New Zealand for a few weeks, my always understanding husband, my amazing family, my longstanding friends, gratifying work, and adorable pets.
My father felt so fortunate in his life and had a knack for announcing his happiness. At the shiva following his brother's funeral, he turned to the back seat of the car and looked at all of us middle-aged kids and said, "Did everyone have a good time?" He had dementia then. We laughed at the irony, but actually he was right. We did have a very good time come to think of it as we always did at Levine family events. I remember great Aunt Ruth's 80th birthday party when Dad left saying, "If someone didn't have fun, it was their own fault." Family was joy to my father.
"The best part of every trip is coming home," Dad would intone as we drove up our driveway after every vacation. I still repeat it to myself and believe it. How brilliant of my Dad to teach us that home is the best and that being with family brings us joy. How lucky that it happened to be true and became our expectation. Dad fell in love with my mother over and over again. At the end he didn't know who she was, but he called her "my angel." Mom was unflagging in her love and loyalty for him.
I know that my Dad also dealt with tremendous hardships from birth owing to his partial deafness, and being told that he wasn't smart. I think of all I inherited from my father, and what I am most appreciative of is his optimism and ability to find wonder in the ordinary – the life that surrounds us every day.