My Father's Yartzeit, January 11th

I just left my buddy Gurf Morlix's house today, where he laid on me a CD of a Don Walser project we've been working on together. I played it when I got home and truthfully I'm not sure if I can release it. I recorded it in his house many years ago, sitting next to his wife Patricia, just him and his old guitar singing a mess of songs that he had written over the years and for whatever reason never recorded with his band. It's just so naked and honest and sweet, I'm not certain that folks who didn't know Don will find it at all interesting. Me? I cried like a baby...

I also noted that today is the anniversary of my own father's passing, what we Jews call a yartzeit, a day of rememberence. Don and my father will always be intermixed in my mind, so much I wrote about it extensively on an obituary I wrote for Don not a few months ago.

My father has been gone since 1983 now, and every year his image gets a bit dimmer in my memory. So I went through my old photo albums and pulled out these pictures of my old man that I thought I'd share with you.

His dad is in the Pacific, a Lt. Coronel leading an all black engineering battalion as Jewish officers weren't concidered fit to lead "whites."

Those who know my love of ridiculous head gear and dandy outfits can now see that I come by it naturally. Dad spent a few years living in Mexico, where his old man was a silver miner and part time cowboy. Some where I have a pic of him in this "traje" sitting on a pony.

It's 1954 and he's in the family business, this time a Cold Warrior. He's a language specialist (German, Russian and Romanian) and radio operator stationed in West Berlin, get my drift?

Here's my first birthday party, 1967 in front of the first family home in Stillwater Oklahoma.

Tallis, kippah and Torah. This is how I remember him most. Leading services at the Hillel Foundation in Norman Oklahoma.

Here's his last portrait, in 1982 just prior to entering the hospital.

I'll be saying the Kadish this morning and I'll study Torah in his memory. I was lucky to have him the short time I did.

On a recent trip I was able to stop in and visit his grave in south Oklahoma City for the first time since it's unveiling. You might note that the head stone is not your normal granite slab. My family was very involved with promoting Native American artists, and when they learned of his passing several them insisted that they collaborate to make tribute to him. The circle is an important emblem of the cycle of life, while the trees represent the biblical referrences to the cedars of Lebanon and the palms of peace. Etched in the center are the tablets of the Ten Commandments. There is no name, or date which I think is just fine. The white stone at his feet is the US Army provided marker given to all veterans and tells the details. I think the art says so much more. For the record, I'd like something similar.