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On this, the evening before the 37th anniversary of my father’s death, I light a Yahrzeit memorial candle just as my dad did for his parents and just as I have every year for him at sunset. Invariably I think back to those first days after he died when his good friend Dick flew from California to our cottage in New York becoming our voice when we could attach no thought to words. But then he had to go back to L.A., leaving behind what he would say at the West Coast memorial service:
“It’s been said that Rod worked hard and played hard. That isn’t so. He played with the enthusiasm of an innocent. And the work, in fact, came naturally. Relatively speaking, of course. For the dramatist’s craft is a highly sophisticated one, and surely he was one of its most gifted and innovative practitioners. But where his peers may have anguished over the creative process, Rod woke up each day saying, ‘Let me tell you a story.’ This was his badge, his thrust, his passkey into our lives. He was eternally the new boy on the block trying to join our games. And he penetrated the circle by regaling us with those many fragments of his Jewish imagination…intellectual stories, fantastic stories, hilarious stories, stories of social content, even one-liners about man’s lunacy. However they were always seen through his prism, becoming never less than his stories. And because he came to us with love…seeking our love…we invariably let him tell us a story. And how much richer we are for it.”

Posted June 27,2012

 
 
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On Father’s day my dad will have been gone almost two decades longer than I knew him. I cannot reconcile that fact. I cannot stop myself from seeing him lying there beneath the thin blue blanket in the hospital, his face still tan against that starched white pillow. Even now I frantically pull us from that room, back, back, back to when he was well. When he was laughing on the lawn doing a Russian dance or playing Gin with his close friend Dick, the two of them slapping cards down and swearing. When he read bedtime stories to my sister and me in a dramatic voice, the cat puppet on his left hand. When he picked me up from camp, kneeling in the driveway so I could run to him after those interminable weeks, or when he checked beneath my bed for monsters. When he was just my dad who would appear at the top of the stairs when I called him. That was thirty-seven years ago.

The last Father’s day gift I gave him was an audio tape I made pretending I was various relatives that he had neglected to call. I remember him sitting up in his hospital bed pushing the play button of the tape recorder and chuckling away with each imitation I’d done. He kept asking me how I got the phone to ring and then he would laugh some more. That memory so clear, even now. My dad, the tape recorder on his chest and his laughter that could be heard all the way down those pastel colored halls.

ANOTHER DIMENSION

 
 

Having just finished watching the "Hatfields & McCoys" on the History channel and skimming this mornings headlines filled with politics and worldwide conflicts, I am reminded of my father's closing narration for "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street" and a deep sense of sadness overshadows an otherwise beautiful Sunday morning.

Epilog for "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street"http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZTe4SJnxPcRod Serling's brilliant epilog for "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street". Note: The visual seems to be a scene from "Forbidden Planet", a 1956 movie which e...

 
 
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"...like all men perhaps there'll be an occasion, maybe a summer night sometime, when he'll look up from what he's doing and listen to the distant music of a calliope, and hear the voices and the laughter of the people and the places of his past. And perhaps across his mind there'll flit a little errant wish, that a man might not have to become old, never outgrow the parks and the merry-go-rounds of his youth."

Rod Serling: "Walking Distance" Closing narration
Photo: Steve Trimm photo of carousel at Recreation Park Binghamton, New York
Inspiration for "Walking Distance."
ANOTHER DIMENSION