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  • Tanya Krim

Happy Father's Day: A Letter to Daddy

It’s about 21/2 years since you passed away in London on that dreary day in November 2021. I have stopped counting the days now, although every Thursday morning, I recall that your funeral took place on a cold Thursday morning. And I wonder how many Thursdays ago that now was…But, as you well know, I am not a numbers person, so I have not recently tried to add up exactly how many weeks have elapsed. Suffice it to say that I am well aware that it is a lot of Thursdays and a lot of days and hours since you last walked on Earth. So you won’t be surprised to hear that it is my distaste for numbers which has also prevented me from calculating the quantity of phone calls, emails and photos which we have been unable to share because you aren’t here. And I still really miss your raucous giggles which end up being punctuated by an enormous Papa snort!

I still think of you many times every day and frequently look at two of my favorite photos

of you – those taken during the last healthy week of your life in October 2021; that was

the first time I had seen you in 18 months due to our COVID world. One of these photos

greets me each morning from its perch next to my sink and the other one beckons to me

whenever I enter my dining room.

Since you passed away, life has become harder and the world more complex and

unfathomable. I find myself wondering every day what kind of advice you would provide

to me and the world at this horrifyingly dark and complex moment; and, yes, that’s both

on a personal and global level.

You lived at a different time and in a different place. The England and Zeitgeist in which

you raised me and my two siblings were very different from those of the U.S. in 2024.

And I am sure that you would now wax super-lyrical about the benefits of earlier

generations of individuals who adhered to a higher moral code and had a greater sense

of respect and duty than those we see today. I know because you were always

highlighting and demonstrating the importance of duty, decency and love when I was

growing up. You walked the walk and talked the talk, and every time, I now pick up the

phone to help somebody in need, I do so and simultaneously thank you for showing me

how to reach out to assist my co-travelers.

I often wonder whether you can hear me when I stand in front of a photo of you or listen

to a piece of music you loved - imploring you to help me out with the countless and

incessant challenges that now present themselves. Because I know that you and I both

believed that music is what feelings sound like.

Perhaps it is lingering naïveté, spirituality or some optimistic chord of hope that make

me feel that you can set up a time for a chat with G-d up there in Heaven and put in a good word for us and our family. Daddy, I hope that you have an ‘in’ with the guy upstairs even if I don’t really know how the system works up there. I must admit that, on my most frustrated, impatient days, I have numerous questions as you were the most caring, driven, solution-oriented man who would certainly have tried to move heaven and earth by now to help any of your children (or extended family and friends) fix any of their issues. On those days, I call out to you: “Daddy, can you please hurry up and help out with X, Y or Z?”

I surmise that, if you were still here, sitting in your study listening to my bucket of

worries about my family and the world, you would look out of your twinkling, bright blue

eyes and allow a soft half-smile to traverse your face before picking up a pen to twiddle

around as you launch into a thoughtful answer. You would, doubtless, admit that it is an

anxiety-provoking time for the entire world and note that the world has experienced

such moments before; you would then share some wise words about how to best

proceed at such a difficult time.

I imagine that you would refer to the fact that this time period will go down in the history

books as one fraught with multiple societal and global complexities and dangers. You

might then note, snidely, that this will only be properly recorded if Society still deems

accurate historical accounts to be relevant and necessary as, unfortunately, social

media snippets currently appear to be viewed as the most valuable information source.

And you would also note that these are often inaccurate and/or misleading.

You would certainly inject some optimism and hope into the conversation – even in the

bleakest of moments - because you were a ‘cup half full’ guy – even when the going got

extremely tough. “TanyaLi, hold your head up and smile. It may never happen!” was one

of your mantras. “Just do your best and be a good person to others. It will all fall into

place.” And I am sure that your prescription would also include drinking a cup of coffee,

grabbing a few pieces of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate (my favorite….although you

always preferred the dark chocolate) and turning on some classical music (Brahms,

Mozart or Beethoven) to soothe my soul. You were an opera-lover, but you would know

that an operatic piece certainly wouldn’t do it for me!

What I would give to hear your strong, mellifluous voice humming the tune of Puccini’s ‘Tosca’ - just once again. That might actually bring me joy as it would mean that I was back, safe, sound and happy in my childhood London home.

Over the past extremely difficult year, I have frequently stood in front of the beautiful engagement picture of you and Mommy as well as your wedding day picture, each of you flanked by your respective parents. I have admired your radiant faces and palpable joy. And I have entreated you to send me a sign that life will become easier and happier. I have reminded myself that you also confronted significant challenges over the course of your life, and that you did so with courage and resilience matched by a commitment to keep a positive outlook. You were the rare blend of emotionally and academically intelligent, a man committed to analyzing situations, doing his best to ‘fix’ things and then turning it over to ‘the guy upstairs’ in whom you trusted deeply.

I hear that refrain now as I am paddling like hell to navigate the diverse dramas playing

out with adult children. Dramas which far exceed those you had to confront with me and

my siblings. How I wish that these were as simple and easily resolved as those of


Each day, I wonder what you would tell me to do or say to them to make them

comprehend the importance of respecting the advice of experienced, loving parents,

retaining core family values and thus preventing making unwise decisions. I wonder

how you would craft your comments in a warm, sensitive and constructive fashion.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that you would weigh in on these anxiety-

provoking issues because you took your fatherhood and grandfatherhood duty very

seriously. Moreover, while you taught us that silence is often golden, you simultaneously

taught us the value of being bold enough to stand up ‘in a place where there are no

men.’ This was one of your core values as a father and a human being - honest, clear,

moral thinking and behavior – even if others (socially and/or at work) tried to pressure

one into caving in to the current trend or ‘sheep mentality.’

And so, as a father, you would always speak up rather than allowing your beloved

ducklings to proceed without providing an alternative perspective accompanied by some

words of wisdom.

You espoused the concept of “Talk, they’ll listen” even if we did not always appear to

listen initially.

Daddy, although you are no longer physically here, my ears continue to hear your words

and follow your lessons. Each corner of my heart continues to hold your values and

teachings dear, while the inside of my heart continues to pound with profound love for

the man you were – my beloved hero. I was truly blessed to have such a kind and

exemplary father. And my eyes fill when I realize, for the nth time, that I will never be

able to hold or hug you again or feel your heart beating with love for me. And I can’t wait

for the day on which a grandson is born to me – your great grandson – whom I hope will

carry your name, warmth, kindness, moral clarity, decency and intelligence.

Daddy – I still miss your physical presence….although I speak to you every day and

know you are watching over me.

I wish that I could have picked out my customary two Father’s Day cards for you this

year – one serious and one funny – from CVS or Target.

Instead, I have just written you this long love letter.

I am not sure how long the mail takes to reach Heaven, but I hope you receive it soon.

Happy Father’s Day.

Your TanyaLi



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