Jewish Book: Saving Myself, a Los Angeles Childhood
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A Los Angeles Childhood - Synopsis of the Book Part 2
Monday, 20 February 2012 12:16

My Father’s Story

My father didn’t know what to do when my mother died. After he buried her, he decided to leave. He was angry that his wife suddenly left. No notice. One minute they were sleeping, but even before the alarm clock went off, she started pulling at him, trying to wake him out of a good dream, a deep sleep.

“She’s dying,” he shouted.

So he called the ambulance. After it came, he took me to my grandmother’s house. Then came back to our old house, and packed two bags, one for me, and one for him, in the suitcases he and my mother saved since their honeymoon. They still had the stubs of train tickets inside. One said “New York City” and the return ticket: Union Station, Los Angeles. He couldn’t shake the loss. He didn’t think he could raise a child alone. He said he had no choice. He said, “I can’t see it ending up another way. Someone else will take care of her.” He was sure of that. After all, he came from a family with three sisters and a brother.

“I just have to do this first. Get my head back on straight. Take care of the immediate,” my father said.

He stayed with me at Bubbie’s until the funeral. I was not allowed to attend.

My father figured I understood.

And so he began the trip to his cousin Emanuel’s in San Bernardino before the traffic of people coming home from work was too heavy. He would lose himself in the trail of automobiles. A Chevy, a Pontiac, a Ford. Each one of them holding a stranger, each one having nothing to do with the other. They were all going in one direction, out of the metropolis of Los Angeles with its skyscrapers, into the spread-out farmland, the orange groves. Each driver had his window rolled down. Oranges were in blossom, their fragrance alive and present, like the comfort of a mother’s morning song to her small child, as they ate breakfast oranges, sliced open, alive, the juice flowing out. My father saw my mother do this many times. She would take half an orange, place it face down, and pull the handle to move the press that pushed the juice through a small hole into a glass. He saw her now through his tears. He continued to drive the frontage road, numb, staring.

He began to sing a song, the last one he danced with my mother:

“I’ll be loving you, always. With a love that’s true. Always. Not for just an hour. Not for just a day. Not for just a year but always.”

Then fear took over. He was singing only to himself. She was gone.

He steered his car away from the sunset, east toward San Bernardino, toward his future that would hold him, at least until tomorrow. Thank you for reading Not Just A Jewish Book Blog.