Dad would have been a good poker player. He always played his hand close to his chest. As his sister Becky (Rebecca Mann) had observed, "Milt never expressed his feelings." Although this was certainly true, the way he played his hand clearly revealed his priorities-his overriding commitment to his wife and sons.
Although I did little to meet his approval, this never interfered with his commitment to me. In 1965, I chose to go to the riotous University of California at Berkeley against his wishes. However, after the first year, I dropped out in order to "find myself" in the midst of all the alternative lifestyles that the 60's served up. Troubled at the sight of my floundering around, Dad made haste to book a flight out to California. He stayed with me for more than a week, perplexed at my seemingly aimless behavior. Only later, I had discovered that he had wanted to put me back on the right track but didn't know what to say. He left sorrowfully, thinking he had lost his son to the perplexing spirit of the 60's.
However, Dad wasn't finished with his rescue efforts. In 1970, I informed him that I was going to Israel to find a new life, but I had one problem-no money. However, Dad decided to indulge my latest fancy and financed it by generously buying my coin collection.
A couple of years later, still in Israel, I informed my parents that I was getting married to my pregnant betrothed. However, this didn't deter my faithful father. In several months, he and Mom arrived in Israel, where they hosted a grand family reception for us.
However, Israel wasn't to work out for us. We relocated in the States on an Appalachian hill farm, which Dad purchased for us. It was the time of the "back to the land" movement and I was convinced that if I lived in harmony with nature, I would experience the peace of nature. However, instead of peace, I had a horrible chain saw injury that landed me in the hospital for four days.
Despite the distance, when I opened my eyes after surgery, Dad and Mom were at my bedside. Although they had a problem hearing what I had to say about an encounter I had had with God during my chainsaw debacle, this didn't deter them from paying my hospital bills.
Although I now had my Savior, Dad remained my earthly savior, even after I graduated from seminary. My back had gotten so bad that I didn't know if I could hold down a job. I was hired, however, by the NYC Department of Probation and had to find an apartment as close as possible to my new job. It was beyond my hopes that I would be able to find an affordable apartment close to the office so that I could come home from work at lunch and lay down. However, Dad stepped in again, without my even asking him and purchased an apartment one block from my office!
To Dad's great disappointment, after only 15 years, I took an early retirement from Probation so that I could write and teach theology on a full-time basis. It had been the financial assistance that he was extending to each one of his sons that had enabled me to do this-something for which I'm very grateful.
Surprisingly, Dad's generosity persisted until the end. My income was never too great and so I would ask to borrow Dad and Mom's car when I needed to take a trip. last year, Anita and I decided to take a road trip down to see our daughter Leora in Orlando, with many scheduled stops along the way. We brought the car in for servicing and were informed that it wasn't road-worthy and would require $3,500 for repairs. When I decided to go in to the service station to see if we could have the repairs done for less, Dad insisted on accompanying me. To my astonishment, he intervened by trading in our junker for a used car on their lot-all in a matter of a couple of hours.
Despite all of this, we both had a great deal of hesitation about expressing our feelings for each other. About two years ago, Anita hinted to Dad, "I know that Danny would appreciate it if you two were more intimate."
I was too embarrassed to speak, but Dad deftly changed the subject to our mutual relief. But I'm so glad that I was able to utter those key words-I love you-in a father's-day card. Dad never said anything about it-he never would-but I trust that it meant something to him.