Celebrating Father’s Day in Spirit


I cannot take him to brunch or dinner today. I cannot cook for him and I cannot buy him a gift to show my love and appreciation.

I’ve been thinking about him this morning and lo and behold, my sister posted a picture of our family on FB, as she does randomly all the time.

And here he was, standing somewhat uncomfortably at the wedding of his grandson so many years ago. Was he uncomfortable because he was wearing a suit? Or because he did not belong with the glitz and glamour? I don’t know, but I know that he looks out-of-place, and I wish I could have been there to tell him that we can have a good time, even though he’s not sure whether he belongs.


I’m a very young child and I’m asking him to “make a muscle”. He’s showing me the muscles in his arm and I’m delighted to know that my father is the strongest man in the world.


I’m a child or a teen and he comes home from work bringing me a chocolate bar or halva. A small piece, as he didn’t have a lot of money. And me, jumping with joy for the unexpected treat. His smile when he sees my excitement.


Realizing that I’m becoming an avid reader and buying me books from time to time, even though they were so expensive then. And then, after discovering Ayn Rand, bringing home Atlas Shrugged, hot off the press, translated to Hebrew and me looking with awe at the two thick volumes and dreaming of the magical time I would have while reading.


Refusing to tell me what he did when he was in the Irgun, and leaving me wondering for the rest of my life how was it for him to be in prison. Was he tortured? Did he kill anyone? A father I knew so well and not at all.


Visiting here in the states when I gave birth, even though he was surely afraid of travel. Not speaking English and hard of hearing. I’m in bed most of the time, impatient, hormonal after a c section. My father, who was apparently hungry, and could not read English, reached for a can of cat food and ate it! He laughed when I discovered it and said that it was not so bad!


Fights he had with my mother, where she was mean, insulting and illogical and blamed him for everything that was annoying to her, including the sun rising too early in the morning.


The phone call, after coming home from a movie. When you live far away, you always dread a phone call late at night. Sony’s unexpected voice saying that my dad had a heart attack. And then wondering if he would have lived longer if I lived next door? Getting on the plane the next morning and coming to my parents home, without the parents.

There is so much I don’t know about him. Being self involved and immature, I didn’t bother to ask him so many questions. I don’t know why he wanted to marry my mother, and whether he loved anyone before her. I never asked whether he wanted a boy instead of a girl, although from the way I was raised by him I bet he did. I learned how to box before I learned ballet, and I was better at the first one…

And truly, there are about one hundred questions without answers.

My dad, ABBA, who I loved so so much and miss so deeply. I wish I could believe in a heaven, or a place where I go to after my death, and see him sitting there, smoking his cigarettes, reading the paper and singing patriotic songs.

I’m here to sing with you.


About rachel bar

Psychotherapist and supervisor.
This entry was posted in Father, Father's Day, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Celebrating Father’s Day in Spirit

  1. Barbara Cooper says:

    I have just returned from a visit to the cemetery where I visited my mother’s grave on this, the 6th anniversary of her death and my father’s grave for Father’s day. It’s been a double whammy day for me. I don’t know why I felt compelled to go to the cemetery, I know that they are not there. Yet, seeing their names on their headstones is somehow a bit of a comfort. A reminder that I did indeed once have them, that they existed in more than my imagination and sometimes, in my dreams. I stand by their graves and tell them about my life. I tell them that I miss them and love them. I say the graveside prayer and leave them each a stone as I was taught to do by them to show that someone was there, someone still loves them and thinks of them. I finish my one sided conversation and then feel guilty for leaving so quickly, like I don’t have enough time for them. But, I know they are not there. They are as close as my thoughts of them. They are in my heart and always will be. And I’m grateful that I had them at all.

  2. mim collins says:

    Hi Rachel…it is a touching piece….thank you for writing it….btw….celebrating is spelled wrong…I know you want to know…best, Mim

  3. Jim Palmer says:

    Very nice Rachel….I guess we have all felt like that but never verbalized it in such a touching way….. Your question about “will I ever see him again”, I can speak to that.. I had a near death experience when I was about 30 years old….(before they had a name for it) It was the most profound experience of my life……….While am not religious in the biblical sense,I know there is something beyond this life. You should look up NDE’s on the internet , you may need to council someone who is dying one day…. If you would like a more detailed version of the experience I would be glad to fill you in …..

    I had no idea you had read Ayn Rand,that can be a conversation at a more appropriate time…… )

    • rachel bar says:

      I wish I could have your belief Jim. I know you’re a very smart man, and yet I don’t share your belief. As for Ayn Rand, I was a believer for quite some time, before I became wise and realistic:) Glad to hear that you liked this blog. Do you know what the Irgun was?

      • Jim Palmer says:

        No, I had never heard of the Irgun, However I was familiar with the activities of the Haganah…… I used to kid my Jewish friends in Miami that the Haganah was just a Jewish version of the Klu Klux Klan (you know how I like to tweak peoples nose)…… But on a more serious note, their activities prompted the Britt’s to leave Palestine and FDR to push for a Jewish state after WWII, so I guess they accomplished their mission.. History is written by the winners.
        On a lighter note i believe your politics changed when you moved to LA…..I am sure there is something in the water out there that makes people crazy,. In fact the whole state is about a half a bubble off center and of course leans to the left.

  4. Nancy says:

    Again I am amazed and impressed with your ability to express your thoughts and your sensitivity.

    Hope “mim” doesn’t spellcheck this 🙂

  5. Dalia Kenig says:

    I guess we never stop being our parents kids, no matter how old we get. It warms my heart to read your writing about your dad and sharing a tender piece of you and him in this blog. I think reliving and remembering the experiences with your Abba is as close as one can get to the real experience. I truly don’t know if we will ever get to meet our Abba in the seventh heaven or a different paradise resort after we are gone (god knows..lol), for now, sharing the memory of our dads and this irreplaceable bond is priceless. Love,Dalia

    • rachel bar says:

      You are so right Dalia. We never stop being their kids, and they never stop being our parents. For good or bad. I know that both of us share a bond here.

  6. susan says:

    Really nice Rachel. Really touched me. Haven’t had my dad for going on 31 years and I relate so much to the unanswered questions and the sweeter childhood memories.

  7. Stephanie Kirschner says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your heart and soul. It’s amazing how much parallel memory I have – hanging on my fathers arm like it was a jungle gym, thinking he was the strongest man in the world – him walking in the door from work with a “present” for me, for no reason – him knowing the answer to every question. This is my first Father’s Day without him. I think about him every day and miss him terribly..

    • rachel bar says:

      I truly believe that some of my memories, in one form or another are universal, Stephanie. At the same time I know, and you do too, of the other people who struggle with a memory of a different dad. We are lucky.

    • Barbara Cooper says:

      Dear Stephanie,
      I remember my first Father’s day without my Dad- it was brutal. I had to buy a Father’s day card for my husband and found a perfect one for my Dad that had me in tears in the Hallmark shop. I bought the card even knowing I could never give it to him. Maybe he read it over my shoulder and knew it was meant for him- at least that is what I like to believe. I don’t know you, Stephanie, but my heart goes out to you today.

  8. Yoram Bernstein says:

    Amazing how easy was it to recognize david

  9. Martha Carr says:

    Beautiful piece Rachel! Made me think of memories of my dad. SO touching! Which one is he in the last photograph? Is that you in his arms in the top photo?

  10. Stephanie Kirschner says:

    Barbara, thank you for sharing about your first Fathers Day without your father. Buying just the right card has always been an important ritual. I thought about it this year – so strange to not be doing it. I understand why you bought the card anyway. Rachel, the photograph of him holding you is so precious – and thank you again for this post. So powerful.

  11. This made me take pause. It’s very touching Raquel and that first photo was a great one to place right at the beginning. I love that you remember all that detail. That you boxed before you did ballet. How you can be candid about how your mother treated him. I know what that’s all about. That low grade cruelty..It’s poignant, and beautifully written. It’s great to write.

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