A Heartfelt Letter – Dear Mom & Dad

Dear Mom and Dad;

I know it has been many years since you passed away. Despite that, I still cry when I think of the two of you. Mom, it is so hard not hearing your voice on the phone angrily lecturing me about my penchant for eating as much chocolate as I did back when you were alive and still do to this very day. Dad, I want you to know that despite our differences especially as I grew older (while my mouth got bigger) I miss you! I miss your knowing smile not to mention all the great advice you imparted to me. I wish I could say that I am as involved in as many of the causes you fought for (NAACP, New York City Housing Authority, Victory Day Care Center, Pelham Parkway Jewish Center Men’s Club, and of course the Medical Librarians Association) but sadly it is not so nor will it ever be so. I guess I must apologize to you for not being as connected as you were to the pulse of social activism.

Mom, you wore your heart on your sleeve meaning whatever was on your mind you would not hesitate to verbalize it. Debby and I failed to feel the intense emotional pain you were in after that gruesome discovery back on that sunny fall day in October of 1969. Your tears ran down your cheeks as if they were from a waterfall. Is there any worse pain a mother can feel than burying her daughter who was smitten in the prime of her life? Unfortunately, as your eyes would swell up with tears the word “why?” would fall repeatedly from your lips. Dad, you always maintained your stoic demeanor despite everything. We could not figure out how you were able to do that but that was the way we always knew you to be except when you were angry. Your temper always seemed to get the better of you. Each time you exploded the episode left you feeling worse than time previous to that.

Dad, we told you at your bedside in your hospital room that was a scant few floors down from the Medical Library you brilliantly helped to plan that you were going to be a Grandfather and that Ann was now your daughter-in-law. We will never know if you heard what we had just told you. Just one day later I received a call from mom while at work tearfully telling me that you had passed away. All I knew was that I had to get to Brooklyn from Great Neck to not only identify your body (to this day I do not know how I was able to handle seeing your body on a metal gurney with your eyes covered up) but also to retrieve your valuables. Of greatest importance was your wedding band which mom wanted me to wear on my finger. To this day it has never been taken as I have no desire to remove it. As a matter of fact, having put on weight, my finger is too fat for the band to fit over it. That is a sure sign that the band is a permanent part of my finger. On the elevator that was painstakingly slow taking us down to the morgue people got on who knew you. You were fondly remembered by your coworkers who were shocked to learn it was you under that sheet that covered you. The image of you sitting at your desk with your pipe in front of you stuck in their minds. Your ever willingness to help anybody who needed you along with your smile were your trademarks.

I will ask that you and mom forgive me for writing this letter that is long and often rambling in nature. Each line I write brings back yet another memory of the two of you as well as chapters in our family book that contained so much of life’s events that bound us up together as a family only for us to get to get to that time we all knew was coming but would not admit to being aware that the dreaded moment had arrived for myself & Debby to leave home to go our separate ways. While we did not leave home simultaneously (I was frequently unofficially living in different places while still technically living at home) it must have seemed that way to you. Looking at the empty beds in the two rooms that now lay barren took another chunk of life from each of you. The bags under dad’s eye grew more noticeable while you seemed like you had a sense death was not too far off. Each time I came to visit you implored to come more often. There was always another excuse on my part as I hurried out your door back out to what was then my life.

Prior to my moving you somehow felt that you failed me. Please, mom, do not think that way ever again as it simply is not true! I took so much from you and made it a part of me. We shared a love of chocolate which I was never aware of. The stories you gleefully told me over the phone about where you worked years ago and of course how you and dad you used to walk up and down the boardwalk in Coney Island. I miss those stories. I miss being able to pick up the phone to call you so I could hear your voice one more time. Your phone number is still on every phone in the house and on my cell phone as well. Just like the wedding band on my finger being a permanent fixture on me so to your number will always be with me. My tears are swelling up and blurring my vision making it hard to write. Just as you had a will of iron so must I have one as well. It is not always possible for me to be as stoic as you were.

Mom, while I am the subject of you I would love to know the name of that College Football Team (or was it a College Basketball Team) that you seemed so fixated on. By the way, I have that radio from your bedroom that you used to listen to the games on. There was one Sunday you told Debby and me not to call you. As it turned out one of New York Football teams was missing a key player on their defense as he was hurt. We joked that if turned on the TV to tune into the game we would see you in uniform on the sidelines ready to get into the game. Obviously, we knew you were not at any stadium but you wanted to be alone without any distractions for one reason or another. Gosh, I never realized there were so many memories to the point if I wrote about all of them I would be writing for the rest of my life.

Dad, I was just getting ready to go to bed but then I remembered I never got a chance to thank you for the advice you gave me that there is always somebody higher up than the person you are speaking with who you can and should speak to if you were not getting any satisfaction &/or problem resolution. You gave me this advice when I was having trouble signing up for the courses I wanted to take while attending college. Just last week I was having a problem with my mobile phone service provider (I cannot be sure you would have done this but I can almost hear you asking mom rhetorically what would you do with one of those things) despite call after call. You would not believe how many times I was disconnected. I could not get over their incompetence. After numerous angry e-mails that I sent their way finally I was connected to somebody who was able to put a usage plan together for me that met my needs. Had it not been for you I would not have gotten as far as I did.

The internet would have made your job so much easier. The same way as you typed on a keyboard to write a letter now you tap on the same keys and in a sense tell the computer what you need to know. Literally, within seconds the information you were looking for appears in front of you on a screen. You have no idea how much more research you could have done for the doctors who needed your help to find out about a medication or surgical procedure. Not to mention you could have taken on more malpractice lawyer clients who needed you to do research for them as well for cases they were working on. I did have occasion to speak to one of the law firms you did work for (I do not recall the reason I called them) and sure enough, they did remember you and your work.

Dad your social activism as I call it was a source of pride for you. You did manage to accomplish a lot but there was so much more than was demanded of you to do. Many times your involvement with these organizations led to family conflicts as we (your family) felt you were not there for us. To be fair when it came to Report Cards, Open School Night, and Parent Teacher Conferences not to mention the PTA (you were the only father who was on the PTA) you never missed a meeting. There were times when my report Card was not that great I wished you could not attend the conferences but you did. When it came to our education nothing took precedence over that. My mouth was left wide open while my vocal cords failed me when mom told me you did not finish High School but were going for your GED. Here is a man who was keenly aware of everything around him (you were an avid watcher of the Evening News in addition to reading many of the New York Newspapers along with the two local Bronx newspapers) yet you somehow let your education slide. Despite what may have been your failings there was a never a time you stopped pushing us to go to college. You felt that without a college education it would be impossible to succeed in life. Of course, you know I never finished college but I had successful careers in insurance, (if you recall I started working in that insurance office right after I left college) mortgage banking, staffing, and recruiting with some sales work in between. I was the exception to your rule but I cannot help but wonder what my life would be like now had I graduated college.

Mom and dad what else is there to say (even if I said it before) except that we miss you both because we loved you as much as you loved us. I hope the speeches I gave during your funerals and at your unveilings served to reinforce that fact. Without your love and guidance life would have held no meaning. We are not mad at you for leaving us as but nonetheless to this very day the pain of losing both of you has not gone away or even a little bit easier to deal with. Perhaps it never will.

Thank you again, mom and dad, for all you did, all you wanted to do, and for being there for us when we need you. May we all meet again in Heaven.


Joel Elveson
Joel Elveson
INDEPENDENT Executive Recruiting By Joel is an "up and coming" Executive Search Firm formed and headed up by Joel Elveson whose visionary ideas, leadership & creativity have brought to life a more "user-friendly" approach to recruiting. His clients and candidates form powerful strategic partnerships that we use to help you. Joel’s Firm offers Permanent, Temporary (case by case), & Temporary To Permanent staffing solutions for all of your Human Capital Requirements. Contract IT/Consultants are available if needed. Above and beyond they are experts (by way of their personal industry work experience) with mortgage, mortgage banking, middle-market banking, accounting, along with many others under the vast financial spectrum of disciplines. Their business goes beyond candidate recruiting as they also train, mentor and develop your internal recruiting staff with an eye towards helping you reduce the cost of hiring. They will also work in areas such as compensation, effective onboarding processes and alike. In other words, their business is to help your business by becoming an extension of you by filling in gaps that cause delay or waste. The recruiting methods employed by Joel’s team are time tested that results in a high rate of successful placements. Joel was trained in the art of recruiting by some of the top staffing industry executives in addition to the best recruiter trainers who to this day drive me to exceed the lofty goals he has set forth.

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  1. Even if it falls into the normal order of things that a parent dies before us, when we lose them as adults – whether suddenly or after a long illness – we are often surprised by the thickness of our disturbance, the sense of uprooting and suspension, depth and complexity of the emotions that cross us before this loss.
    These reactions, these emotions often end up being buried under the weight of the commitments and activities that an adult must face, under the routine of everyday life while it would be appropriate to give them space and expression …….. how well you did!

    • Thank you, Aldo, for your readership, insightful comments, and not to mention the regularity of your comments. Happy Holiday to you and yours!

    • Traci,
      Thank you for your very warm comment. I always believed that it since it was our parents who brought us into this world and gave so much of themselves so we would have a better life than they did. The very least we owe them is love and respect and for their memories to always be cherished. I am very happy to read you are going to reconnect with your parents tomorrow.

    • StephiePahlav,
      Let me thank you for your very warm and beautiful comments.
      As a writer, you strive to touch people with your words.
      I am sorry the article made you cry.
      Life, as you know, is not always filled with happy occasions.
      Please take comfort in knowing that your words deeply touched you.
      I look forward to your continued readership along with your wisdom.

  2. Dear Joel, your article is one of the most heartfelt and touching I have ever read. You wrote this as a beautiful poem. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and wisdom. It also reminded me of this quote: “Time is like a river. You cannot touch the same water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of your life”. A real challenge for many of us these days, to truly live in the moment and remember these words.

    • Anne-Maria, Thank you so very much for your generously kind comments. The quote you posted is so very fitting. I greatly appreciate the fact that you not only took time to read my article but in addition to which you provided comments as well. I hope can take a moment to read the sequel to this article that came out yesterday. As a writer when somebody takes the time to let the writer know they have been touched by his words it is in of itself a tremendous gift for which I must say than you for again. All my best!

    • Lynn,
      You could not be more correct when you wrote “writing of things so dear to the heart is not often easy”! This was without a doubt the most painful and emotional article I have ever written as it brought back so many memories both good and bad. Let me offer my heartfelt thank you to you not only for reading my article but for your very kind comments. I look forward to your continued readership. Thank you again.

  3. Joel this truly touched my heart and tears reflect the deep love that you express. It is kind of you to open your heart and share a page from the book of your life. I am honored to have read this and humbled by the generosity you have in the sharing.

    • Larry, You have touched me with your very kind and generous comments. As a writer there is nothing more gratifying than to be told that you have touched somebody. I cannot thank you enough not only for reading my article but for the feelings you expressed that came from your heart. Many thanks again for your readership. My best wishes to you.

  4. Just Brilliant!

    Joel Sir, you poured your heart out, in such a touching tone, that left me in tears. I can relate to each pearl of yours as I went through the pain of losing both my parents as well. The one bright note that keeps burning bright inside of me is that my Mom gave me the entire last day of her life unbeknown to anyone, even herself.

    Just the evening before, she told me she wanted to come with me the next morning to see my new office that she heard was very painstakingly designed at great expense. I had left no stone unturned to make the place outstandingly welcoming to my Real Estate business clients.

    On the way, I took her to our family physician for a check up and he told me she was ‘fit as a fig.’ At the end of the day I brought her home and within a few minutes she passed away quietly.

    I count this day as one of the most precious Blessings of my life.

    Thank You so very much, Joel Sir!

    • Bharat, Your recollection of the last day of your mother’s life was very moving. We at times are so engrossed social media, work, etc. that we often lose the place in our lives for our loved ones. I wish I could have been there when my parents passed away just to spend those precious last moments of their lives with them. Not having been able to do so makes the pain that much more everlasting. What you shared in your comments was so very special. Thank you for sharing your “history” with me. You have touched me with your words.

    • Dear Joel Sir, my family values teach me barring man-made barriers of caste, creed, color and religion, we are all born equal and hence must respect humanity above everything else.

      Thank You!

    • Bharat,
      Think of how much better this world would be if we all learned to take down the man-made barriers that separate us. If only we could strive to get to know each other better perhaps we can help hatred to start to dissipate!

    • You are so right, Joel Sir! Both our words and deeds must reflect the innate desire to take down these barriers. Then and only then can we start to make an impact on anyone else.