(My father was an immigrant to whom the American Dream was more than a cliche. It was a beacon that brought his family here dirt poor, driven by nightmare memories from Eastern Europe that he later shared with me. It was why going off to war in 1917 for the country he loved was easy for him. It is why this annual remembrance appears once again on another Memorial Day.) Harry Izenberg (Courtesy Jerry Izenberg) The picture is older than the Great Depression by more than a decade and older than the day that Hollywood first put a voice to its motion pictures. Time has turned what once was its clearly defined black-and-white composition to a soft sepia setting that lends a kind of ironic warmth to a photo taken during the grimmest of man's ventures. He is standing in front of a fortress-like wall in what the war correspondents of that day referred to as "somewhere in France." To a set of eyes riveted in a new millennium, the uniform he wears appears to be on leave from another world. … [Read more...] about Remembering my greatest hero (my father) on Memorial Day
Things my father said
Last night, my son asked me to quiz him in preparation for a geometry test. He handed me his notebook and pointed to the shapes and definitions he needed to memorize. Then he sat back, ready and waiting. “Define a rhombus,” I said. He quickly replied, “An equilateral quadrilateral!” I looked at his notes where he had written “a parallelogram with four equal sides” in a messy scrawl and said, “Wrong!” I handed the notebook back to him and suggested he review his notes before we tried again. He took the notebook and looked at the definition and said, “Mom! That’s the same thing I just said. I’m right. I just used different words!” He then explained why they were the same and I zoned out because math (in general) and geometry (specifically) have never been my strong suits. I remember, in high school, sitting at the dining room table with my father as he tried to help me with first algebra and then … [Read more...] about Why helping my son with math reminds me of my father
I found the joy of exercise at 26 years old. Before then, the idea of running, working out, feeling exhausted and becoming increasingly sweaty was nothing I was interested in. When I finally discovered that I loved running (of all things!), I couldn’t get enough. Almost five years later, I’ve run a 5K, 10K, 10-miler and a half-marathon, and I don’t have any intention on quitting anytime soon. I have found a true passion in this form of exercise. But when I look at the accomplishments I’ve made during this time — the training, the playlists created, the effort I’ve put in — I can’t help but consider my 62-year-old retired father-in-law, Joe Knapp, and his achievements in staying fit and healthy. His exercise of choice is somewhat more unusual than running: barefoot water skiing. This year marks the 40th year of the Barefoot Nationals. He has attended every one and is president of the Minnesota Barefooters Association. With no plan to slow … [Read more...] about My father-in-law, barefoot water skier
Matt’s genial, unhurried stroll is a familiar sight to anyone in the Telegraph’s offices in London. Unbothered, swaying slightly like a skiff at anchor, thought bubbles emanating from his head – that is our front-page cartoonist’s default mode from Monday to Friday. It’s puzzling, then, to glance through the train window at Diss station in Norfolk and see a figure that looks like Matt hurrying through the car park towards the platform. Running, even. ‘That wasn’t you, was it?’ I ask him when we get into his car. (He drives a large Volvo, which is slightly at odds with what I pictured him in – a Fiat Uno, a VW Camper or a Maserati.) ‘I’ve never seen you in a hurry.’ ‘I hurry at weekends,’ he smiles. Otherwise, I’m pleased to report, to the casual observer the Suffolk Matt is the same as his weekday alter ego: jeans, jumper, slightly scruffy, hair poking up in surprise but generally … [Read more...] about Cartoonist Matt on his 30 years at the Telegraph: ‘The joke is the thing my sanity is based on’
I am sitting in a restaurant, watching my father thumb through a small silver photo album from my parents’ wedding. It’s the first time he’s seen the album in 25 years. It’s only the third or fourth time I’ve seen him in a decade. I got the album after my mother died suddently in her sleep in 2016. My father was in a Maryland prison then. Now he’d been paroled, and here I was learning about a wedding she’d rarely talked about. Like millions of Americans, I am a child of addiction. Research indicates that an annual average of 8.7 million children ages 17 or younger live with a parent addicted to drugs or alcohol. Drug deaths rose by 21 percent in 2016, the biggest annual increase ever recorded. Today’s headlines warn of the arrival of a new drug crisis, driven by a flood of opiates and alcohol. When my parents married in the late 1980s, Washington, D.C., was on the verge of a coming catastrophe: crack cocaine. Cheap, highly addictive crack … [Read more...] about Sebastian Johnson: My father’s addiction made him a stranger. Was it too late to get to know him now?