June 20, 2010, - 2:04 pm

Father’s Day: I’m One of the Lucky Ones

By Debbie Schlussel

Today, Father’s Day, I visited my late father’s grave.  Even though he is no longer here, I am one of the lucky ones.  My father was ever present in my life throughout his.  And even though he is gone, his influence on me lives on.  (Read my eulogy and tribute to him.  He was an amazing and unique person.)


My Dad (Center) Receives Award From

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


Me and My Dad

My father loved me and my siblings, he cared, and he taught us right and wrong.  My father instilled in us the importance of patriotism and love for America.  He taught us the courage of our convictions and the importance of being a good dad.  Even though he was a medical doctor, he was not wealthy.  He sacrificed making a lot of money to be ever involved in our lives.  Woven into his great sense of humor and occasional pranks he played on us, my dad taught us to be proud Jews and never take crap from anyone.

I once had a boss who told me, “principle is expensive,” and discouraged me from having any.  But it fell on deaf ears.  My father taught us that principle was the most valuable commodity, the most worthy treasure we could possess.  As kids, he took us to protests he organized–for example, when the Detroit Jewish community invited anti-Semite and Israel-hater James Zogby to the Jewish Book Fair to promote his hateful book.  Later on, my Dad helped me spy on Islamic charities and organizations in town and tips he gave to federal law enforcement led to raids, arrests, and shut-downs of funding, including the freezing of bank accounts that funded HAMAS terrorist attacks through the Holy Land Foundation.

My father always told me about how, as an Army doctor in induction centers during Vietnam, he was offered money by various parents to rule their kids ineligible.  But he never took these bribes.  He was drafted and served and was ready to serve on the front lines.  He felt everyone should serve America and do their duty when called.  My father made sure we knew the story when his friend, Dr. Isaac Poltinnikov, an eye doctor, was fired from his job by the Soviet Union, for the “crime” of trying to emigrate from Soviet anti-Semitism and persecution to a life in Israel.  Since Soviet parasitism laws forbade donations to the doctor, my father made up elaborate problems of the eye and sent them to Dr. Poltinnikov for his fictional consultations, so that Dr. Poltinnikov would survive.  But he also showed us the tragedy, when Dr. Poltinnikov finally succeeded in leaving for Israel, without his wife and daughter, who respectively starved to death and committed suicide, because they could no longer take the KGB spying and oppression.

And there are so many such things my father showed me, taught me, instilled in me–many of them outlined in the eulogy and tribute I gave to my father at his funeral and on this site.

But, like I said, I am one of the lucky ones.  Sadly, most people will never have a father like my dad.  Even sadder, today, at least fifty percent of American kids will grow up without a father at home.  And even sadder yet, the American conservative movement has adopted as its new spokesmodels a woman and her daughter who’ve glamorized single motherhood.  Yup, the Palins.  Bristol Palin–no different than single mothers with names like Lakisha, but for the bank account and gushing from the conservative movement–posed in glamorous “tea party” photos in fashion mag Harper’s Bazaar, along with her illegitimate son who has little contact with his father.  Because that truly is, unfortunately, high fashion, these days.  On “Good Morning America,” this week, she was promoting something called “co-parenting,” a nice liberal word for “Daddy doesn’t live here.”  Yup, welcome to the new “conservative family values.”  Same as the liberal ones.

Who needs Bin Laden and Islamic terrorism when we are destroying our country from within, creating so many future problems by bringing kids into this world without fathers?

And, then, there are the kids who don’t know their father truly cared.  They don’t know because he’s been vilified by mom, or he just isn’t present and they aren’t told the real reason why.  Such is the plot of one of my favorite movies, “Departures (Okuribito).”  And such was the reality for Ray M. Wong.  Wong’s Must-Read “In Death, Assumptions About Dad Melt Away,” from Friday’s USA Today, will bring tears to your eyes.  Even though, unlike his, my dad was always in my life, it brought tears to mine:

In Death, Assumptions About Dad Melt Away

By Ray M. Wong

I didn’t think my father cared about me. I left Hong Kong at age 5, when my mother divorced my father in 1968. My father never contacted me. I lived in America. He lived a world away. Then in 1996, at age 33, I returned with my mom to Hong Kong and met my father. I spoke only English. He spoke only Cantonese. My mother needed to serve as interpreter.

After I married my wife, Quyen, in 1998, I visited Hong Kong again to introduce her to my father. When Quyen and I had kids, I heard through my mom that he wanted to see our children. So I invited him to the U.S., told him I would pay for his plane ticket and that he could stay with us. But I never received a response. I didn’t think he cared. So I went about my life.

In March, my father suffered a stroke and died. It was my family’s obligation to go to Hong Kong to take part in the funeral. I was his only child; my kids were his only grandchildren. Once there, my father’s younger brother brought my father’s possessions to me. From a faded, leather carrying bag, my uncle took out a small, tarnished brass picture frame holding a photo of Quyen and me at our wedding reception. My uncle told me that my father kept the picture on his nightstand beside his bed. It was his favorite. Then my uncle handed me a worn, crusty plain brown packaging envelope, which contained photographs and cards my mom had sent my father throughout the years.

There were pictures of me in my college cap and gown, Quyen and me at a formal dinner while dating, the two of us beaming at our wedding reception, our son Kevin on his third birthday, a 5-month-old Kristie cradled in my left arm on the couch. I found Christmas cards from my mother nestled between the photos, and a neatly folded paper with a hand-drawn heart and a message of love from Kristie.

I leafed through more pictures and discovered a group shot of my father, mother and me next to a number of relatives and friends on a pier in Hong Kong. I must’ve been 4 at the time. I came upon another photo of me in elementary school, maybe 8 years old and wearing a gaudy blue sweater. My father had kept every item relating to me and my family.

My uncle said my father never traveled. In his 76 years of life, my father had never been on an airplane.

For most of my life, I didn’t think my father cared about me. As I looked upon the pictures of my family with tears in my eyes, I knew I was wrong.

To those fathers out there who are in their kids’ lives or making every effort to be but are shut out, I wish you a Happy Father’s Day. And I thank you for contributing to stability and values in America’s kids and our country’s future. You deserve our respect and admiration. And you don’t get nearly enough of it.

I miss you, Dad.

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41 Responses

Thank you for a wonderful story Debbie. I’m delighted I’ve found your website and that you’re clear about who the CINOs are. I hope your weekend is good.

steve on June 20, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Debbie, Thank you for sharing this wonderful story of your father Dr. H.L. Schlussel. His wisdom, bravery and courage live on in you! In many respects we have him to thank for molding you into the powerhouse that you are. Blessed is the memory of Dr. Schlessel, may his many examples and lessons continue to empower you (and us), I am sure he continues to watch over you from a prominant spot in heaven warm in your heart.

hill billy on June 20, 2010 at 2:46 pm


    JeffE on June 20, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Very interesting read, you had a very inspiring and loving father. I’m sorry to see that he’s died.

MS on June 20, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    I, too, had a GREAT father who recently passed. In deed it’s sad, but I thank God that He placed me where He did.

    Our heavenly father is GREATER than any earthly father, so I am blessed (we don’t believe in luck 🙂 You can be blessed even if you think it’s luck 🙂

    As goes Israel - so goes the World on June 21, 2010 at 12:34 pm

That was beautiful. That was a great tribute to your Dad. Father’s who are really there for their families, not just providing materially, but also sharing their guidance and wisdom, deserve so much credit.

The story about Dr. Poltinnikov was particularly interesting to me. My husband emigrated from Russia to Canada because his dream was to become a doctor, and Jews were not admitted into medical schools there. For that reason, he places a special value on freedom, sometimes taken for granted by those of us who have had it all our lives.

Laurie on June 20, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Jews weren’t admitted to medical school in Russia? Wow! Thanks for telling me that because a good percentage of doctors here in Israel are Russians who trained there. I guess they’re either not Jews or are not doctors. Hmmm, Don’t think they’re not Jews.
    It’s true that way back when, Jews were not admitted to Universities but one of the reasons Israel has done so much for Russian immigrants, even those with money is to keep them here and not have a “brain drain” of the intelligentsia.

    Did you know that as recently as the 1930’s, Jews in America were under a quota system at the major universities there?

    mk750 on June 20, 2010 at 6:48 pm

      Laurie is correct. Jews were prejudiced against when seeking entry into universities in the USSR. If you hid your Jewishness, you made it through and this was often the case in the last generation of Soviet Jewry before the Iron Curtain was brought down.

      Ask the older retired Russian doctors in Israel, the ones that came here in the 70’s at the age of 40 or 50.

      Shy Guy on June 20, 2010 at 10:52 pm

        My great Italian name “Rossamato” became Ross, so others hid their nationality.

        As goes Israel - so goes the World on June 21, 2010 at 12:38 pm

        Um, I have. I live with them having made aliyah in 1988 just before the USSR fell.
        They didn’t change their names some of which were unquestionably Jewish and at least one I knew had her own gynecology clinic. Doctors who are now in their 60’s got their educations there. Where I live, most of the doctors are Russian the rest being Arabs. A few other Jews sprinkled in. I also know plenty of other academics who, while not religious, did not hide their Jewishness and had professions. There was a lot of mythology that surrounded the Russian aliyah because of the genuine problems the Refusniks of the 1970’s had. Whether they hid their Jewishness or not, in 1990, most of the Russian, Ukrainian and Beylorussian Jews came laden down with possessions because they couldn’t get cash out. Because they had access to the Foreign currency shops, being amongst the elite, they brought antiques, pianos, cars, oriental rugs, furs and other goods they hoped to resell once here. Many even brought breeding pairs of pedigree dogs so as to have a source of income. I saw this with my own eyes and the town we lived in at the time was a “development” town so received many, many Russians. At the time, walking down the street, I sometimes thought I was in Moscow. All one heard was Russian. I would say those who were from Ukraine probably suffered more discrimination because they were Ukrainian than a good many Jews did. If you were both, you had a problem for sure. And the Eastern Republics also caused problems for Jews so yes, some Jews were denied entry but many did get university educations.

        mk750 on June 22, 2010 at 4:14 am

What we have are a lack of respect for the value of men in America as well as honoring what they do as fathers. And our children are paying for it. My father is gone now but I will always be grateful he taught me the values and instilled me with the decent attitude with which to go through life – and though he is no longer here with me, I still love him very much. A father is just as indispensable to the happiness of children as a mother.

And we should never forget it. Happy Father’s Day!

NormanF on June 20, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Amen, Norman and as for Dads being as indispensable as Moms, maybe even more so. Does no good to have a Mom who is not his or your soul mate, although I guess the opposite could be true too. That’s the key. Having one parent who is on your wave length. If neither is, it spells pain and trouble and if they split and you get the “wrong” parent as custodian, it’s also traumatic.

    mk750 on June 22, 2010 at 9:15 am

Your comments about your father touched my heart. I know he was a caring person not only to his family, but to many people that touched his life. It is a great tribute to him that you honor his memory so beautifully.

We enjoy your website – keep up the good work.

LA on June 20, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    That’s a very moving comment. I liked it very much. It reminds me of how special this day is for all of us. That’s exactly what we need to hear more of about our Dads.

    NormanF on June 20, 2010 at 4:55 pm

Thanks Debbie for a beautiful article about your father. I was lucky like you were. I lost my father years ago but I feel that he is always with me.
I, too, consider my father’s honesty, integrity and his patient approach to others as his continuing gift to me. I am grateful that he set a high standard.
And I nearly sobbed reading the piece by Ray Wong. Fathers are so important.
I assume that is a picture of you with your Dad. How wonderful! Thank you for sharing this.

Cat K on June 20, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Your dad lives on in you….sounds like he was a real mench…..good for you, good for you….HK

Harvey K on June 20, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Those are my sentiments. I really do think to honor our parents means something and as I indicated in my response to the poster Debbie rightfully removed, if you don’t how to be a man, you don’t know how treat other people with respect. And we do need to do a better job of crediting fathers instead of treating them with indifference and neglect. We owe them everything for the men and women we’ve become today.

    NormanF on June 20, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Glad to see that Osama’s comment was removed. Your comments about your dad, Debbie, are truly moving. We can tell that you really loved your father, and it is very clear that your dad had a profound love for you and your family. Indeed, fathers just don’t get adequate acknowledgement these days.

ICBMMan on June 20, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Exactly. I felt sad for him for he could have been on better behavior. Those of us who have fathers, as Debbie wrote are blessed. We miss our Dads!

    NormanF on June 20, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Your dad sounds like he was a great man.

samurai on June 20, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    More than that…. I think we can still feel our loved ones are with us. Not just their influence but they are present with us after they are gone. Their spirit gives us strength all the days of our lives and someday we will do the same for our children. Love overpowers the grave and even death. We are sustained both by G-d and by the good deeds and the wisdom imparted to us by our ancestors. It is our comfort in this life.

    NormanF on June 20, 2010 at 6:44 pm

Nice story Debbie. It’s a shame men are not given any respect today. Courts favor the women, work, media, and especially tv. I have now seen women wishing single moms a “Happy Father’s Day”. Because “they have two roles to take on”. UGH, really, why not teach the single moms how to control themselves so they don’t get to be single moms in the first place!

Ken on June 20, 2010 at 8:51 pm

I was in a war zone when my late father died. I was about twenty minutes drive from his house. I could not attend for security reasons and until now I could not visit his grave site, and I know I will never be able to do so.

Daniel. on June 20, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Thank you for sharing your story with us
The love of a good father can never die !

Jacqueline Hanna Youssef on June 20, 2010 at 10:52 pm

Sorry to say but I’m definitly done with this site. I have defended debbie constantly but I guess to her and her supporters the term neocon is a slur even when I’m using it against her enemies. For me to be called a muslim was over the top and I guess I’ll just stick with my own kind. Real patriots who call fake conservatives with no principles neocons.

tyler on June 21, 2010 at 12:45 am

    Hey Tyler!

    Don’t let the door yadda yadda yadda…

    As goes Israel - so goes the World on June 21, 2010 at 12:40 pm

The “Me and my Dad” photograph is truly wonderful and touching.

Preposteroso on June 21, 2010 at 2:05 am

Hi Debbie,

Your tribute to your father is heartwarming. My father was the complete opposite as yours but I knew that he did love me. I find that his “imprint” is in me, despite how much I did not want it. He had a great sense of humor, work ethic and love for our country. He was a Democrat, the old school kind, not the socialist version of today. He was have probably voted Republican if he was alive today. Keep the good work up, I pray for your safety. You have a great mind and biting wit! I especially like your reverance for G–. You don’t see that in Christian or Jewish circles nowadays. I like that you are from Michigan. I am from Muskegon and am a 22 year veteran of the USN. I have seen the Arab point of view in the world and like you are scared that America will wimp out and allow them to destroy Isarel and USA. More later,

Yours Truly,
Bruce A. Burr

Bruce on June 21, 2010 at 2:10 am

Thanks for this and for all that you do, Debbie. I’m sure your dad is very proud of his girl.

DS_ROCKS! on June 21, 2010 at 2:42 am

Thank you for sharing the story of your father, Debbie. It really is amazing to see quite a different, tender side of a person, after seeing him as such a tough person. You’re lucky you had your father in your life, and better yet, to incourage you to go with your belief, and not to cave in to temptations of money, like most people do nowadays. Keep on doing it, and hopefully more people will learn to do the same, and maybe eventually we’ll have a better world, with more values than the world we live in right now.

Tal on June 21, 2010 at 9:32 am

You can tell how much you love your father by the expression on your face when you look at him. I married a terrific man and he is a wonderful father. I am happy for my children and grandchildren. I was not fortunate to have my father in my life, no regrets, he made the decision and I turned out just fine. I am very happy for you.

sharon on June 21, 2010 at 10:42 am

Thank You for the article Debbie. As my father gets older, I appreciate even more all that he did for me and my family. I see that your father’s passion and fierceness still lives on in you. Keep it up.

CaliforniaScreaming on June 21, 2010 at 10:44 am

To use a good ole Southern expression, you are a chip off the ole block of Dr. H.L. Schlussel, Debbie.

Of course I never met your wonderful Dad but I really have reading you all these years.

Actually, seeing that picture of you looking at your Dad says it all. That’s a truly amazing picture. Everything you’ve said about your Dad is seen in your eyes in that picture.

Jeff_W on June 21, 2010 at 10:47 am

it bothers me when people post sugary posts with phrases such as, “debbie, you’re 100% correct…” and similar such butt-kissing verbiage.

so, follow me to hypocrisy-land where i am now the mayor: DEBBIE, YOU ARE 100% CORRECT regarding the importance of active, involved, loving fathers who were not just present, but taught their children every day by example.

i was a handful to my parents. not criminal behaviour, drug problems, etc but i was naturally lazy, sneaky, did things my way (aka – the wrong way) and abhored concepts like “hard work”, “the principle of the thing”, and so on.

my natural disposition was met by my father’s unwavering insistence of hard work and everything in life being done the proper way; all driven by principles never to be questioned.

long story short, i KNOW i would be a useless, whiney loser today if it weren’t for my fathers’ fortitude and ceaseless instruction on every aspect of life as a boy, adolescent and man.

thanks dad, i love you.

howardroark on June 21, 2010 at 11:39 am

One can easily discern that your father was a terrific man, who’d be so proud to know that his daughter is carrying out his dream of fairness and decency for everyone.

Neil on June 21, 2010 at 11:42 am

You were a cute little Jewess, Debbie!

B in Toronto on June 21, 2010 at 11:59 am


    That is ONE DARLING CHILD to his right 🙂

    And, you’re still on the right!

    As goes Israel - so goes the World on June 21, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Good fathers seem so rare. My father was a great man and has been gone since Oct. 1989. I miss him terribly. My husband’s father was also a great man and much to our sadness, he passed away a week ago. My husband did not get one more Father’s Day with him. For all of you who still have your Dads (and moms) tell them you love them, hug them and make sure you don’t have any regrets when it is their time, about showing them how important they have been in shaping your life. You can never get those moments back!

Musiccgirl on June 21, 2010 at 12:06 pm

My mother-in-law got her first pair of glasses from the Lions Club. She is now a productive member of society. Thank you Lions Club, and Debbies dad. We always contribute to Lions Club when they collect at intersections.

Truth on June 22, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Hey Debbie, I hope your dad burns in hell.
Take care, much love.

debbiesISnasty on July 15, 2010 at 2:31 pm

You are a ‘real mensch’…thanks for sharing.

Barbara Dobbin

barbara dobbin on December 20, 2012 at 1:11 pm

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