June 15, 2008, - 11:23 am

On Father’s Day, I Cherish the Memories of My Late Dad

By Debbie Schlussel
On this first Father’s Day without my late father, it is bittersweet. Bitter–because my father is no longer here and because there is so much I want to ask and tell him, but cannot. Sweet–because I know I was so lucky to have such a strong, moral, responsible, caring, and loving father in my life (who was so good to me), when–today–so many American kids do not.
I miss my father, H.L. Schlussel, MD (of Blessed Memory), more than anything. The sadness and pain of not having my father here is not any less than it was when he died, last September. In fact, it is far deeper, because reality has set in. But it was very real, last year on Father’s Day, picking out the card I would give my father, knowing it would probably be the last. I cried at the store.

dadlionsclub.jpg

My Dad, H.L. Schlussel, MD (Center) Receives Award From

Michigan Lions Club for Providing Free Eye Care to the Poor, Blind

Dad was a great father, who sacrificed financial lucre in exchange for spending time with us kids, caring for us, and taking us places–from his delicious omelettes and French toast, to whitewater rafting on the Colorado River, to our appreciation for Copper River Salmon, we knew our father loved us. And he taught us to be kind and charitable to others, especially those less fortunate. Above is a photo of my dad receiving an award from the Lions club, for giving free eyecare to the poor and the blind. My father was a very special person.
To those of you who are lucky enough to still have your father on this earth, I hope you will give him a hug and that he will hug you back. And I hope you appreciate what you have, before it is too late. In many ways, I feel that I did not appreciate my father enough, as I cleaned out his office and went through the thousands of memories–photos, notes, letters, etc. My father was at many times both mother and father to us. He sacrificed his personal happiness for our well-being.
Fathers are so important in our lives, but they do not get the respect they deserve. In our “Sex and the City” culture with a growing matriarchal hegemony, fathers are mostly ridiculed on TV and in the movies–if they are even present at all. As I noted last year, there have been a few recent movies coming out of Hollywood bucking that trend–like “3:10 to Yuma,” “In the Valley of Elah” (whose anti-War message I did not appreciate, but whose loving father I did), and “Resurrecting the Champ.” But that was last fall. And the brief trend hasn’t continued in any notable way.
Good fathers teach their sons how to act like men, and their daughters how to be treated by men. Sadly, the American father has atrophied as a reality in most young Americans’ lives, to the detriment not only of the kids who are lacking in a strong father, but to the detriment of our entire country. We have long known that kids without a father will be more likely to get involved in crime, do poorly in school, and do drugs–to name just a few of the societal maladies that the “Murphy Brown” lifestyle brought America. Single mother households don’t cut it.
So, if you still have your father in your life, tell him how much you love him and appreciate his presence and influence in your life. Make sure he knows that he made a difference and for the better. If you are a father, kudos to you for doing the often thankless hard work some Americans won’t do. You have made a difference in someone’s life and made America better for the effort.
And read this touching piece by Wall Street Journal Senior Editor Kevin Helliker on his father Gerald Robert Helliker, an old-fashioned father who taught his sons to be men. He notes:

A coalition of scholars and psychoanalysts are publishing a book this fall called “The Dead Father: A Psychoanalytic Inquiry,” based in part on the premise that society has suffered as dads have become more maternal and less authoritarian.
“The whole culture needs the father back,” says Lila Kalinich, a Columbia University psychiatrist who served as senior editor for the book. “Fathers substantiate law and order. Fathers can create a sense of womanliness in daughters and bring the male children into manhood.”

Another important read: Juan Williams’ “The Tragedy of America’s Disappearing Fathers.”
While my father is no longer physically present on this earth, I know he is looking down from above, and he is always on my mind. I hope he is reading this. Dad, I love you. And I miss you. Happy Father’s Day to you.
(Read my eulogy to my great father.)

dadandme.jpg

Me and My Dad, H.L. Schlussel, MD

meanddad2.jpg

***
Also read Pam Geller’s beautiful tribute to her hard-working father.

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12 Responses

A wonderful, wonderful tribute Debbie. I also recommend reading Pamela’s recollections of her dad at Atlas Shrugs.
It is nice to know that Fathers are appreciated still.

Miluimnik on June 15, 2008 at 1:40 pm

Your Father was a wonderful man Debbie, and your words brought tears to my eyes.

KrazyKafir on June 15, 2008 at 5:05 pm

Nice job Debbie.
Your father is proud.
You’re a good girl.

Formercorpsman on June 15, 2008 at 6:24 pm

Great tribute to your Dad, Debbie.
I call my Dad a few times a week (he lives in India) and this Father’s Day was another occasion to speak to him. I’m very proud of mine for the same reason that you are proud of yours.
I enjoyed reading the articles that your father wrote. Why don’t you put up a separate section with your father’s articles/writings? That would be a great tribute to his memory. Just my thoughts.
~anon

anonymous twit on June 15, 2008 at 6:31 pm

I wish I only met him. It was not meant to be. But he left a treasured jewel, which is you. We are very proud of you.
G-d Bless his Memory.

Daniel on June 15, 2008 at 9:05 pm

Very nice. I miss my Dad too. Today I found a family of baby birds living in a birdhouse he made. So pretty.

nyone on June 15, 2008 at 9:18 pm

I love most all your work Debbie,–but the stories like this are great. I surely wish I could have met your Dad. Somehow, I reckon that all of your readers have met him to a large extent through you, girl!!
Fatherhood is indeed under attack and until we recognize that honorable fatherhood is fundamental to healthy society, we will continue to reap the whirlwind of degradation, crime and other societal ills that are part of the father-less society. People with no connection to a moral father are handicapped in their psyches over many fundamentals of life.
A society gets what it honors. Look at what we honor today–phony actors and selfish people of every kind–survivors and game players. If we ever want to change society for real healing, we have to start by honoring “honorable” fatherhood again. This also means–disdaining dishonorable fatherhood–absentee fathers (really bastard-sires) and properly punishing abusive fathers.

BB on June 15, 2008 at 10:01 pm

Good article except I have one major criticism. And that is sadly part of the blame for this fatherless epedmic does go to relgious leaders. In fact many belief it has gone as far as it has because relgious leaders don’t really care about this problem, they are concerned about homosexuality, protecting women from porno and the sex trade, and that is all great. But they don’t care about protecting fathers and sometimes feel that they would rather replace the father and feel they have to protect women from moen of their own religon which is wrong as these men are not the enemy.
In the Orthodox Jewish world there may be a few exceptions but the vast majority of Orthodox Rabbi’s in the US (I think in Israel it is a problem as well) don’t believe fathers are important and I give you example after example of this. They only care about mothers but fathers they couldn’t care less about. Many Orthodox communities only help divorced women. Some so called Orthodox papers like the Jewish Press openly support raising children without fathers and do not care the reason. Chabad send me an email before mothers day about mothers. I never got an email about fathers before fathers day. Why??? They send me emails about lonely women Chabad. Do they do anything for lonely men. No!! And I told him so but they still haven’t changed. Some Orthodox openly make it out that the only thing that makes a kid Jewish who the mother is and say this loudly in a very insenstive way and do all the other stuff I mentioned above. What message does that send to Jewish women when Rabbi’s make it out that fathers don’t really matter? Do you think it helps good Jewish men. Of course not!! There are prople of the opinion that both Judaism or Christianity for various reasons their own leaders ahve pushed very feminized type of ideas going back a while and why you feel they should not be part of the blame for our problems I don’t really understand. I know myself most ORthodox Rabbi’s refuse to help any family situation in that the problem is not the father. If it is a dynamic other then blame for father for everything they not only refuse to help you but blame you as 100% of the blame for the problem. I am sick of Orthodox Jewish Rabbi’s and their behavior and they deserve as much blame as anyone for the fatherless problems and also only liking nebesh type men in their communities and discriminating men that actually sometimes think outside the box.
It sounds like overall your father was a good men except for his support of Kahane who I think was just a hater of everybody and coudn’t work with any other man and if all our problems are because of nonjews why the heck was he so mean and ruthless to other Jewish men and used them as pawns and threw them out when he felt like it and didn’t compensate them when he promised he would. Other then that I think he was a good man.

adam6275 on June 15, 2008 at 11:48 pm

Good article except I have one major criticism. And that is sadly part of the blame for this fatherless epedmic does go to relgious leaders. In fact many belief it has gone as far as it has because relgious leaders don’t really care about this problem, they are concerned about homosexuality, protecting women from porno and the sex trade, and that is all great. But they don’t care about protecting fathers and sometimes feel that they would rather replace the father and feel they have to protect women from moen of their own religon which is wrong as these men are not the enemy.
In the Orthodox Jewish world there may be a few exceptions but the vast majority of Orthodox Rabbi’s in the US (I think in Israel it is a problem as well) don’t believe fathers are important and I give you example after example of this. They only care about mothers but fathers they couldn’t care less about. Many Orthodox communities only help divorced women. Some so called Orthodox papers like the Jewish Press openly support raising children without fathers and do not care the reason. Chabad send me an email before mothers day about mothers. I never got an email about fathers before fathers day. Why??? They send me emails about lonely women Chabad. Do they do anything for lonely men. No!! And I told him so but they still haven’t changed. Some Orthodox openly make it out that the only thing that makes a kid Jewish who the mother is and say this loudly in a very insenstive way and do all the other stuff I mentioned above. What message does that send to Jewish women when Rabbi’s make it out that fathers don’t really matter? Do you think it helps good Jewish men. Of course not!! There are prople of the opinion that both Judaism or Christianity for various reasons their own leaders ahve pushed very feminized type of ideas going back a while and why you feel they should not be part of the blame for our problems I don’t really understand. I know myself most ORthodox Rabbi’s refuse to help any family situation in that the problem is not the father. If it is a dynamic other then blame for father for everything they not only refuse to help you but blame you as 100% of the blame for the problem. I am sick of Orthodox Jewish Rabbi’s and their behavior and they deserve as much blame as anyone for the fatherless problems and also only liking nebesh type men in their communities and discriminating men that actually sometimes think outside the box.
It sounds like overall your father was a good men except for his support of Kahane who I think was just a hater of everybody and coudn’t work with any other man and if all our problems are because of nonjews why the heck was he so mean and ruthless to other Jewish men and used them as pawns and threw them out when he felt like it and didn’t compensate them when he promised he would. Other then that I think he was a good man.

adam6275 on June 15, 2008 at 11:49 pm

He sounds like he was a good man. Rest in peace.

samurai on June 15, 2008 at 11:54 pm

Oy gevalt!—you let the secret out of the bag—you’re a bottled blonde:)

EminemsRevenge on June 16, 2008 at 6:43 am

Luke, 22, is the only child of Russert and his wife, Vanity Fair writer Maureen Orth, and the two were uncommonly close.
ìI spoke to him at least two to three times a day,î Luke told Lauer. ìIt had to do with the election coming up, sports, or just about life. There was always a lot of love from him. We would always hug. Thereís not a day that goes by that I have not known my father loves me. For that, Iím eternally grateful.î
Lauer said that he could never remember talking to Russert over the past 12 or 15 years that Russert didnít mention his son, and never in a bragging way. And that always led to questions about Lauerís own family.
ìPeople come up to me and say, ëWe may not know you personally, but your father always
TODAY
Tim Russert with his son Luke as an infant.
spoke about you,í î Luke said. ìHe loved kids because they were so sweet, they were so honest, and that was important to him in life. The thing he cared about more than anything was everyone elseís kids.î
Tim Russert had written a best-selling book, ìBig Russ and Me,î about his father, a sanitation worker in Buffalo, N.Y. When the book was still in manuscript form, Luke sneaked into his fatherís file cabinet and read it. A senior in high school, Luke said he was so taken by the relationship described in the book that he had his grandfatherís and fatherís initials tattooed on his torso. That Christmas, while trying on a shirt he had gotten as a gift, his undershirt rode up and his parents saw the tattoo.
Luke said his fatherís shock at seeing the body art softened when he saw what it was. Luke also said that his advice to other kids is, ìIf you get a tattoo, show it to your parents on Christmas.î

jmpw on June 18, 2008 at 10:10 am

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