Dad loved to sing and get others to do so as well: Often he would sing (Autumn Leaves, Mona Lisa, Besame Mucho (in English), some of his favorites ) to Mom. People were always visiting us, and he would get them to sing, too, or sing to them. This created a sense of joy and light-heartedness within the family and with our guests.
He would also tell lots of stories and had a vast interest in many topics. Sometimes-especially when I was very young-it would be the superhero stories of my mom being Wonder Woman and my sister and I being "wonder girls." It was fun because we became known as that and I felt like a "Wonder Girl." (People would see us and ask "How's Wonder Woman and the Wonder Girls? " Now, when I'm in my Gal Gadot WW mode, move over! :) Perhaps he really thought of Mom as Wonder Woman because when they were about 60, he would tell her, seriously, "Let's have another one!" (I'm the youngest and they had children when they first married, and then waited over 20 years to have my sister and I in their 40s.)
He added to these stories, many books and stories about historical figures that embodied one or more of the human virtues. Some of my childhood books captured such virtues, which he tried to instill in us, through the power of narrative. It is not surprising to me that my interest and graduate study in history and psychology-especially positive psychology/narrative therapy-would further extend and provide a way to continue the conversation.
When my sister and I would get into trouble, sometimes our punishment was: "two pages of creative writing." I would often write an essay on how unfair it was that I had to write or how his point of view was incorrect. As a therapist, I see that his consequence likely helped me process some feelings and/or deepen my understanding. Even in challenge, dad got and used story.
Some of the best stories were those that brought forth conversations and debates, which stirred my imagination, spirituality, political sensibilities and life most broadly. I especially loved hearing stories of the possibility of reincarnation, his experiences as an immigrant, my Uncle Hamilton and Dad's "love for America"; and, how he came to conceptualize the vicissitudes of life, loss, tragedy, and family,
As I try to honor my father's memory, may I find, live and improvise "song," in my life story, too.