In an earlier blog I wrote about the summer that my parents spent their vacation at Brant Lake. Several days before they arrived, in the days when I was still jogging, I ran to the end of the lake to inspect the house my parents had rented. This would be an opportunity to spend an extended period of time with my father, a treasure that I missed during most of the year when his days were consumed by meetings at the temple where he was the rabbi.
The house was owned by a family named “Christian” and a wooden sign, in bright yellow letters, informed me that I had arrived. Looking at the sign I appreciated the irony of a rabbi living in a dwelling that belonged to people named “Christian” but since my father was a believer in ecumenism, I concluded that this site was very appropriate!
However, when I inspected the house I realized it was constructed with three separate partitions joined by an open walkway. One section was a living and dining area and then, along the walkway, there were two bedrooms that branched off. The third section was the bathroom. To walk from one section to another meant exiting and then reentering each part of the house. I only hoped that during my stay it would not rain or there would be very wet occupants, even with umbrellas standing next to the front door.
Of course, on the first night that I stayed with my parents it rained. After we each grabbed an umbrella to make our way from the living room to the bedroom my father and I ended an intimate conversation, maneuvered out of the living room and made our way into the bedrooms and bathroom, our conversation forgotten. It poured for the next several days and whenever we needed a meal or to use the bathroom the ubiquitous umbrella opened and the attempt to stay dry took precedence over any conversation.
In the years to come the owners of this three-part house enclosed the space into a single entity, but I often think back on that summer when I had anticipated the special length of time with my father only to discover that each of the separate parts in the architecture of the house became a metaphor for the years spent with my father–-always broken up. Always seeking the protection of a father for his son, as I maneuvered through life’s difficulties.
Today, especially in the midst of the pandemic, we realize how important it is to be with those individuals we care about and not to be separated. We all need to be joined together with our loved ones and when we are not, even if the sun is out, we feel as if the day is gray and perhaps even raining.
Won’t life be wonderful without umbrellas!