Category Archives: family influences

Squirrels in The Family Tree

My dad never displayed his temper. I do not think I ever heard him swear when my Mom was in the room. He was the disciplinarian in name only. If my Mom was upset with me for good reason and told me “Just wait until your dad gets home.” I knew I was safe. Were my mother to decide the punishment it was likely going to be far more harsh than Dad’s.

My mom was more than okay though. She supported both my sister and I in most everything we did. Why she sent me away to summer camp when I was four I still believe was for me to have fun – though my older sister swears they needed the summer off because I was so difficult.

As a small child till high school I was not difficult. True, my ninth grade home room teacher did tell my Mom that I would either be a great attorney or mastermind criminal. I never went to law school and I never passed the bar. I also never became a doctor and I believe that was her greatest disappointment when it came to me.

Though he never finished college, Dad was really smart. He was conservative in his financial actions but was way ahead of his time on social issues. Part of that strong feeling to help the downtrodden, if I am to believe his sister, is because Grandma was a communist.

So, let’s look at the mix:

Dad – a pushover

Mom – a failed disciplinarian

Sister – lies to me

Dad’s sister – lies to me

Who is missing? Of course my grandfather – he was a wonderful, funny and loving man. He loved to flirt with women but never in front of my grandmother – then he would just hang around looking stoic. Once when my grandmother was hospitalized he lived with us for a while. His favorite thing was to walk to the kosher delicatessen and buy a sour pickle that he would eat on the way home. For some reason he was not allowed to eat them, but boy did he enjoy them.

Pops attitude towards pickles was a big influence on me. I learned from him that you have to be willing to take some risk to get a reward and when you really want something done correctly, do it yourself. Now, he never set out to teach me that, and I do not know if he even believed that, but, that is what shaped my life to a great extent. By the way, he was a socialist, but from him I also learned to care what happens to the guy just a bit smaller than me.


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