A Light Goes Out

March 2015 (Florida)

March 2015 (Florida)

My dad was diagnosed with lymphoma in late July.  The prognosis was optimistic, and he started chemotherapy in early August.  I spent the first week of September with him, taking him to his second round of chemo and making sure he was settled and comfortable on his own.  Admittedly, never having been sick before, he was impatience with the process, wanting to feel better immediately.  Last Tuesday morning, September 8, my father unexpectedly passed away in his sleep.  The loss to myself, my family and his large circle of friends is unspeakable.  Our hearts are broken.

Last Thursday afternoon, we gathered for a memorial service to celebrate my father’s life.   The room was filled with our family, our extended family, and many, many friends across all generations.  My sisters and I, my brothers-in-law, and two of my father’s closest friends gave tributes to this special man who touched and enriched so many lives.

This gives just a snapshot of my dad, but I want to share the words I wrote and read at his service.

I’m overwhelmed by all of the family and friends that have joined us here today to celebrate my dad’s life. It’s so comforting to have all those who loved him gathered together to share our sadness but also to remember the good things he brought into our lives.

My dad reveled in life’s simple pleasures: top among them, in no particular order, cars, sports, a passion for his favorite foods, and women.

He was fun to have for a father. Time spent with him usually meant some kind of adventure in search of one of these passions (well, not the women). I have so many memories that begin with “taking a ride”, if I was lucky, alone with him in his beloved Corvette, top down, but the ones in the family station wagon were memorable too. We might go out to Baskin & Robbins for ice cream or to a bakery to pick up a special loaf of rye bread or a box of white cream-filled donuts. On a Sunday morning, a particular treat would be to ride to the BagelMaster. This was the one and only time we were allowed to eat in the car, as long as we ate a bagel that was hot.

Even though my dad and I hadn’t lived in the same city for decades, we remained close, talking each week. When he needed help this summer, we spent some quality time together, more time than we had spent together in a long time, both in person and on the phone.

Dad was a wonderful brother. His relationship with our Aunt Alida served as a role model for my sisters and me. Just as with Richard and Alida, Jane, Jennifer and I are not just sisters, but friends who enjoy spending time together. What a gift to us.

My dad was a loyal friend. Look around at how many of his friends are here today. He kept up with friends from throughout his life: grammar school, summer camp, different jobs, different marriages. Once you were his friend, it was forever. He truly loved helping his friends, though he wasn’t as good at being helped. Even so, Dad’s friends went above and beyond in lending him love and support over the past couple months when he needed it most.

And he was good at falling in love. It took a long time, and multiple tries, but finally, he met the love of his life, Susan, on a tennis court in Florida. His devotion and tenderness towards her was heartwarming, and we feel lucky to have Susan as part of our family.

It’s hard to come up with the words for how much I will miss Dad now that he’s gone. A hole was ripped in the fabric of our lives. Over time, I hope to be able to mend that hole by weaving in stories about him, memories of a life well-lived and well-loved.

I love you, Dad, and I’ll miss you every day.

Dad and Daughters

Dad and Daughters (2009)

Thanks to everyone who has reached out with comforting words of sympathy.  Your support gives me strength to move through the days ahead.

Richard Pollack 1937-2015

Richard Pollack


Posted on 14 September 2015, in Family. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. I’m so sorry for your loss, Betsy. You will cherish the extra time you spent with him this month.

  2. Betsy, that is such a beautiful tribute to your Dad. Just remember that you have all those
    lovely memories that will mean so much to all of you as time goes by. Jim and I are so sorry for your loss. Ro.

  3. Betsy – this was a really lovely tribute to your father. I am very sad to hear of his passing. XO

  4. Your Memorial to your father is just wonderful and lovely. Although I didn’t know him, I have a picture now of the kind of man he was. Reading your tender words did cause some tears from afar – way out in Colorado. I have been thinking of you, Howard and your family this past week and wishing I could give you a great big hug. That will have to wait but not for long. Love, Mary

  5. peggygilbey814628432

    Betsy, I’m so very sorry for your loss. Though its little comfort to say that at our of passing we have done all that we were meant to do in this life, but then, it seems your Dad filled his life abundantly and shared so much love to others. Best Wishes in the difficult time ahead but may the many beautiful memories of your father bring you comfort in your time of grieving. XO

  6. Mindy, Rich, Bryan & Justin


    We deeply feel the loss of your father also. He was our ‘Uncle Richie’! An uncle like no other. Many family memories made over the yrs….your dad will be sadly missed. Wishing you peace and comfort during this time of sadness ♡♡♡♡

  7. Mary Louise & Donald Wilcom

    Betsy, a beautiful, heartfelt tribute to your dad. We all loved him and enjoyed many happy memories of times spent with him, Susan, and your dear families. We will miss him too. Love to you and Howard. Hugs, ML & DL

  8. Betsy, my heart goes out to you. And to your sisters, family and friends.

    I lost my dad almost 3 years ago, though after a very long illness. I loved your analogy of weaving together stories. It occurs to me that it’s a lot like darning – the tear remains, but held together with a lot of stitches so it can still be worn.

    Take gentle care of yourself my friend. Sending you hugs and tender thoughts. XOX

  9. Beautiful words, Betsy! Wonderful tribute to your dad.

  10. Hi. Beautiful. Is there a special place that you would like us to make a contribution for your dad? I also forgt to tell you that rabbi maltzman was my cousin Marcia’s former rabbi. She used to live in Bethesda and now lives in fl. Love xxxxxxx

    Sent from my iPad


  11. So very sorry for your loss. Your words were a lovely tribute. Sending you all the hugs and love in the world XO

  12. Dear Betsy, I’m so sorry for your loss. Your words about you Dad and your special relationships with him and your sisters are inspiring. I hope that all your wonderful memories of him will sustain you during this tough time. Dalit

  13. Sorry for your loss Betsy. Sending hugs to you and your family.

  14. Dear Betsy, you have given your dad a beautiful tribute. I send you my deepest condolences on your huge loss. It is a very big life change so take good care of your self and I imagine you will find solace with your memories and his presence in your heart. Love Maureen Bovet


  15. Beautiful words Betsy and so well put. I am sure that you have jogged memories and comforted those who knew him and made those who didn’t have that wonderful opportunity feel as though they had crossed paths with him. You were lucky to have him but I think we all also hope to live a life of appreciation by others and clearly he met that goal in spades. Sending a big hug your way ~

  16. Betsy. You know how I feel. I sent notices to friends from elementary and high school. They were all saddened. The best description of Richard was : “An all around good guy”. I also remember how he spoke about his Uncle Harvey. Richard and I often talked sports. I will miss that and him. Don Nitkin

  17. I’m so sorry for your loss, Betsy. What a beautiful tribute. You and your family are in our thoughts.

  18. Such a touching, heartfelt tribute to your dad. I’m so sorry for your loss, my friend. xoxo

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