Today marks the first Father’s Day without my dad.
I spent my day with family and friends exchanging and one-uping each other’s stories about him and laughing at his outrageous idiosyncrasies and shedding tears knowing I’ll never have his embrace again. I could speak forever, on and on about how effervescent he was and how he brought magic to any room. I miss him everyday but on days that are extra challenging, I read what I shared at his funeral. It serves as a reminder that he is ever present and left his mark on everything he touched. His loss is painful beyond words and I still can’t believe it’s reality. But I know he is eternally proud of me and is always with me.
Thoughts about you, Dad
Harvey. Harv. Hershey. Hershala. Harvela. Dad. Zayde. The many names of a man loved by countless beings. He was one of kind. One in 7 billion really. Boisterous, gregarious, funny, compassionate, theatrical in the most dramatic of ways. He was friendly with everyone, giving to anyone and most often, inappropriate with every single joke. But that was the charm really.
For those that don’t know, Dad had a rough childhood. He came from a house of tumultuousness. Obviously, this will alter a child’s psyche and my father certainly did not get by unscathed. But I really believe thetraumas he endured set the tone for so many of his strengths.
His confidence was palpable. When he walked into a room, you knew he was there. His presence and personality were always tangible, his light was always shining.
Right from the beginning, he was the proudest father. He always reminded us how when we were infants he’d hold us from here to here (demo - wrist to elbow). I guess it stuck, that’s how I hold any newborn I encounter, and I’m sure to share the technique with any parent who will listen.
Our childhood was riddled with opportunity and culture. Dad’s dedication to Judaism was his life’s work. It started with us, when our parents sent us to Camp Ramah from a young age. Camp was an unparalled experience. Between the Jewish education and foundation, and the friendships that came with such ease and consistency, Dad did everything he could to send us back each summer, constantly expanding our experiences.
Our parents took us into New York City most weekends for our dose of Broadway shows, Gus’ pickles, bialy’s and any synagogue on the Lower East Side that would open their doors to this blonde haired blue-eyed Aryan looking Jew. Dad always joked about that when the Orthodox kids would look at me funny. It never really bothered me that my weekends were spent with my family. I felt like such an adult having seen hundreds of Broadway shows at such a young age. I always thought it was so cool to go explore the city and have the best tour guides. Dad always made us feel safe, like we were untouchable, even with 12 million people around us.
I remember my first show like it was yesterday. Dad took Matt and I to see Les Miserable, I think it was 1995. We cut school that day. You see, Harvey knew that the best education was never with our heads in a text book. We spent the entire car ride playing the soundtrack and singing along, while he’d stop occasionally and explain the story line. When he talked about theater you could easily see the joy on his face. He loved sharing his passion with his kids.
I remember, quite vividly, this other time with all 5 of us, in line at TKTS booth in Times Square. We spent what seemed like hours and hours waiting for whatever the new hottest show was. Naturally Dad made friends in line, because well, he’s Harvey. When we got to the front, Dad realized he left his wallet and credit cards at home. He turned around to his newest teammate, Darlene Duffy, and asked to borrow $400 to take his family to a show. This woman DID NOT bat an eye. She reached right into her pocket and handed over cash. She knew the kind of person she was dealing with. The next day, Dad wrote Darlene a thank you note with a check. I’ll never forget that moment. Not the Broadway show, I don’t even remember what we saw that day. I’ll never forget the way my dad had this special finesse, a fine touch with people, that just immediately made them feel safe and comfortable, like they had been his friend forever.
Growing up in our house was free comedy. Dad spent the better part of his life re-telling the same jokes, swearing that he hadn’t told it before, all the while, everyone seemed to always laugh again and again. Dad was full of spontaneity. From his impromptu Weissman Tours stories, walking funny to make us laugh, or wearing his underwear on his head on the NJ boardwalk, there was never a dull moment.
It was completely normal to show up to the Jaffe house and catch Harvey in his standard uniform; a collared button down shirt, calf-high dress socks, and his infamous tighty white-ies. Everyone of mine, Matt's and Marissa’s friends have had the delighted opportunity to watch dad parade around half dressed. Yet, our friends always seemed oddly unfazed, simply just acknowledging that THIS, is Harvey. And-- almost disappointed if they showed up and he had pants on. Full disclosure, he has his standard uniform on right now.
All of our friends loved dad - as is clear by the presence of so many of you today. To some of you, Harv was like a second father; someone you could easily confide in and laugh with. Harvey just wanted to be one of the kids. As we moved into our teenage years, he’d sit out with us on the front porch smoking cigarettes and perhaps the occasional joint. He hung out at our house parties and cheer from the sidelines at our beer pong tournaments. Completely normal parenting. But all of our friends’ parents loved Harv as well. So much, some of them latched onto him as a friend too.
Anyone who knew dad, knew he was a handful in an assortment of way. As Matt mentioned, dining with him was always a feat! But his lists of mishagas had mishagas:
Not Riding in elevators, Clear ice in all of his beverages, Extra well done French fries, no SPF in his sun bathing oil, and our personal favorite, “the Harvey Jaffe laws of keeping kosher”
How apropos that Dad would be enjoying his last meal with his first friend. Not just any first friend, but the godmother to me and both my siblings. Aunt Bobbie and Dad have this unbreakable bond. I know dad’s final moments were of complete joy and bliss. Sitting with his age-old friend talking about the good times, kids, life moments and all of their glorious memories.
He loved his kids. He loved us so much he saved every piece of artwork, every card, every photo, every email. As the stories continue to flood in, I keep hearing how much Harv talked about his kids. He was obsessed with us, and his love is undying.
I’ll miss all of you Daddy. Your laugh was infectious and everyone who knows you, who’s ever spent time with you, always left you feeling full of love. Cause that’s who you were Dad. You were LOVE. You’re love knew no boundaries. In fact, I often say you loved us aggressively. You always reminded us growing up that love only multiplies. That only more love can grow from love. You were exemplary in standing by your cause of love.
Dad- you were a force to be reckoned with. The ultimate connector. Magnificent in your ability to make fast friends and maintain lifelong relationships. You were a giver. You gave your whole heart to everything you did. A true mensch in every sense of the word. We thank all of you, on behalf of Dad, for enriching our fathers life and sharing him in ways that only multiplied his love.
I wish we had more moments, more opportunities to just sit and laugh. I wish I could hear your voice, just to hear you say “I love you” one last time. If only we could all love with the magnitude that you loved, the world would know more peace. Your legacy lives on dad and I love you to eternity. Until we meet again, rest in Love.