When I think back on my Dad’s life, I see a man seeking happiness. He found it often in the comfort of family, enjoying a peaceful day at home, sharing a good meal, a fine bottle of wine, or embarking on new travels and adventures.
He began his life as the much-loved and cherished only son of first-generation immigrants, Yetta and Zaide Meyer, and as the baby brother of his sister Miriam. Dad lived mostly in the here and now, but when he reflected on his childhood, he talked about his love for his family and friends and of the natural world. Since he was the son of immigrants to Toronto escaping from pre-war Poland, he also talked of the material hardships during his childhood.
He worked his way through school and eventually decided on a career in law. I think he was drawn to the intellectual challenge, the ideals of working for social justice and the desire to provide a good life for his family. Certainly, his children never wanted for anything – we lived in a beautiful home, attended private schools and dined at trendy restaurants to celebrate every birthday. We also took many memorable family vacations: camping in the summertime and escapes to sunny beaches in the middle of those cold, snowy Canadian winters. I remember one trip that my dad enthusiastically planned to celebrate my brother’s bar mitzvah: we travelled to Sweden – where my Dad was invited to present a paper to the Swedish royal house) and then on to Israel, Rome and Zurich.
Dad was much more than just a great provider. My earliest memories were of a loving father who could magically solve any problem – a bee sting, a leech stuck on my foot, a broken leg. He always knew what to do. Warren and I frequently tested his legal skills with debates about who loved who more, and with negotiations over bedtime! Warren and I seemed to have an endless list of bedtime exceptions that were rarely over-ruled; there were late-night calls for good-night kisses, bed-cookies, bed-drinks and, of course, bed-time stories. In addition to indulging our desire for love and together time, Dad also instilled in me a life-long love of learning, reading and exploration. He taught me about the value of family, honesty, hard work, persistence and taking responsibility for my actions as well as my own happiness. He also taught me to reach for the stars, follow my dreams and never give up.
Later in life, Dad wrestled with many health issues but amazed us all by his resilience and ability to bounce back. I have no doubt that much of this was due to the love, support, companionship and Michelin-Star-worthy cooking of his wife, Valerie. He continued to find happiness in the company, accomplishments and joys of family – his wife Valerie, his children and grandchildren Eleanor, Rebecca, Nathaniel, Nicholas, Patrick, Jack and his niece, Judy. I remember clearly the pleasure Dad took in experiencing the holiday season through Dan’s anticipation of prezzies, viewing fresh summer berries through the delighted twinkle in Tara’s eyes and, over the years, the joy and pride he took in every visit with family.
Dad, you were a good father. You led a good life – filled with meaning, love, growth, challenges, triumphs, transformations. You found happiness over and over again and expanded it by sharing it with others. I will miss you. Just like I wrote you from summer camp all those years ago, I am sending you my heartfelt love and thank-yous for the life, love, lessons and opportunities you gave me. Hugs and kisses; you will be in my heart and my love for you will last forever. Rest in peace now and always, on a bed made of comfort and happiness, surrounded by the warmth, light and love of all that you have created and all that you hold dear.
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