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ben tikvah notes (son of hope)

notes on mom and dad

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by  david  berkowitz

          I have such a great and tenderhearted father.  I don't think there is a dad like him throughout the world.  There are days, even at this moment, that I miss my father so much I can actually feel an ache in my heart.  I thank the Lord that, with all the bad things I have done in the past, and all my failings and mistakes, my Dad still loves me.  He has stuck with me.
     To be honest, I put my father through hell.  I'm not only referring to acts which caused me to come to prison, as horrible as these things were.  But ever since I was a young child I had a wild and rebellious streak. 
     My parents, just simple middle class Jewish folks, poured so much love in my life.  My father had to struggle to make a living working in a little neighborhood hardware store, six days a week, ten hours per day.  He had to stand up for hours and would come home exhausted.  He worked hard and was always honest in his dealings with others.  My Dad was always so mild mannered.  I don't believe I ever saw him in an argument.  Everybody liked my father.
     But, dumb me, I just didn't appreciate him. 
     There were good times.  I remember going to school across the street from our apartment building where my Dad and I would sometimes play catch with a softball.  He would fix my bike when he could.  I remember playing Monopoly with my parents on an occasional Sunday afternoon.
     We had our fun times when Dad would take me bowling, or he would take me out for ice cream on those hot summer nights.  There was a local candy store where we went for ice cream cones, and sometimes we went to Carvel for custard sundaes.
      As much as my parents cared, it was beyond their ability to understand---they could not have comprehended my suicidal thoughts--.  It was not their fault.  I never shared my feelings with them.  My Dad would plead with me to open up to him, but I never really did.
     I remember the times I saw him break down and cry when I was cruel to him.  I remember how he struggled to care for me when my mother got cancer in 1967 and ended  up in the hospital.  She would die in this year, too.
     At age fourteen, I was staying out late at night and running with a bad crowd.  I know my Dad still remembers the first time I came home drunk and puking all over the bathroom floor, missing the toilet.  He was very upset with me.  Yet no matter how much he begged me to stay off the streets, I was set in my rebellious ways and would not listen to him.
     Today I have a lot of guilt seeing how I mistreated him.  I know he deserved better than me for a son.  I truly believe this.
     Today I can truly thank God Almighty for the father I have.  Like my Heavenly Father, my Dad's love for me has been unconditional.  He has loved me when I was good and also when I was bad.  All these years later my father has stuck by me.  Only true love could manage this.
     He's in his nineties now.  I don't know when I will ever see him again face to face.  However I can carry my Dad's love in my heart, and this is good enough.
     "Happy Father's Day, Dad.  I love you."
      (I am thinking) a lot about my Mother, Pearl, and how much I love and miss her, and how I long to see her again.
     I was fourteen when my Mother died from cancer in 1967.  Although she left this earth so many years ago, I miss her tremendously.  Not a day goes by that I do not think of her.
     I had a great Mother.  But I was to immature, and I had too many inner struggles and emotional problems back then to really get close to people even to my own parents.
     I was a moody and aloof child.  I had caused my parents much grief by the way I had misbehaved, and by the way I treated them.  I regret this so much.
     Now that I was finally able to grow up--and this was when I was already in prison--I have been able to see, understand, and appreciate the wonderful worth of my parents and the depths of their love for me.
     She was a fantastic knitter.  She worked wonders with wool and her knitting needles.  Many of her friends and neighbors would beg Mom for the colorful Afghan blankets she created.
     My mother was a priceless treasure.

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