Father's Day Campaign

An opportunity to honor or memorialize a special father in your life

A personal note from HfH Director Mike Aichenbaum

I share the following words with you now in honor of my father, Milton Aichenbaum, may his name always be for a blessing.

As you’ll read below, Milt’s defining feature was always his dedication to his wife Lil and then to their three children. I invite you to share a story, photo or webcam about a father in your own life by clicking the following link.

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Your submission will then be posted on this page.
(Submissions will appear in the order received and
will usually post within 24 hours)


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In Honor of Milton Aichenbaum

For many of us who are ‘baby boomers’, our parents have entered their ‘golden years’. This is not always an easy transition. Indeed, this past January my siblings and I moved our parents from their home in Detroit to a personal care community in Philadelphia. Our father unfortunately suffered a steep decline and passed away April 29.

Milt slept most of the time during his last month. The last time he was minimally conversant with me was mid-March, when he twice shared one or two sentences with me. Each time he called me ‘bum’, a term of endearment which he had frequently used during our lives.

As it happens, in closing our parent’s home my sister discovered a love letter which Milt wrote to Lil the week of my birth. I saw this letter for the first time about April 1st. In this letter he refers to me as his “new bum”. 

 

“Honey: 

It is a grand feeling to have you back home. I can’t tell you how much I missed you— or words can little tell what is in my heart. I wish I could put in words how much I love you. 

These years with you have been a blessing in happiness for me. When I look at the children tonight—I thank god for you. There is no happiness such as I have from my general family—now that we have another doll to look at during T.V. commercials—it brings such a good feeling to me. I just can’t wait to peek in on the new bum. 

It is going to be something special to have my entire family with me at home tonight. 

The little bugger has dug a deep spot in my heart already. But that is because I love you so much, and your happiness is mine. My quote for today is—”A family who is united in love has everything.” And there is nothing like our kids, and for me—you. 

Welcome home—and congratulations on a perfect job. 

Love 

Saurkraut”

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In Honor of Mark Seale

Mark Searle was 55 years old when he passed away. He died from complications of an infection due to many years as a paraplegic. He was my father, my fantasy football teammate, my encourager and had a laugh that resonated the entire room. One particular day, he taught me a life lesson that I will never forget.

When I was 18 years old, my mother had to fly to Arizona for a funeral and I was “in charge” of my dad’s care while she was gone. My dad and I decided to head out mini-golfing together. All was going wonderfully as we reached hole 9 of 18. As I was pulling his wheelchair backwards around an upward curve on the course, I could feel the pull of his chair wanting to tip. I used all the muscles and strength that I had to force the chair upright again. It worked! The chair righted itself, but the occupant did not. To my horror, I watched as if in slow motion as my 300 pound father fell out of the chair. That was a problem all by itself, but the bigger issue is that he fell into the water hazard! Yes, I said he fell into the water hazard. There he was, incapable of using his hips and his legs to help, sprawled in 12″ of water. As the patrons and owner of the golfing place came over to help, I cried. I sat down and cried. I cried for the pain I knew he was in, I cried for the embarrassment and I cried for my inability to help him when he needed help. What started out as a wonderful day turned into a disaster. It took 6 men over 45 minutes to get my father

 

back into his wheelchair. Once he was in his chair, the water was literally pouring off of him. He looked at me and said “well, come on, let’s finish the game.” In disbelief, I couldn’t believe he would want to finish the game. But he did. He said ‘when life dumps you out and you land on your face, you get back up and finish the game well.” I can still see the water bubbling out of his shoes as he leaned from his wheelchair to hit the ball at hole 10 and beyond. He never gave it another thought, although I do think I had to take a 25 shot penalty for the game.

It wasn’t until after he passed away that my mom told me that my father spent weeks afterward in excruciating pain from that fall. He never, ever let on. He played the rest of that game, the rest of his life, with joy and dignity.

I am now 26 years old and have been dealing with severe health issues for the past 6 years which have rendered me disabled. My father’s words stay with me, because finishing the game is important, but finishing the game with joy and dignity is better!

– Emilie Searle, Daughter

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In memory of Angel Timev, whom HfH was honored to host along with his wife Vessa and daughter Monica

My father, Angel, fully deserved the name. He was quiet, contemplative, introspective and incredibly generous with his time. In the small community of Bulgarian immigrants he was the center, the go-to guy for advice, help, or tools. He loved me and my sister but never said so; we just knew.

When I was thirteen he taught me how to use a sewing machine. Later on, it was a miter saw, a table saw, a router… you name it. If it had a plug, my father felt we should know how to use it. He taught me how to change a tire, how to drive a stick, how to solve any problem, really. ‘Just look at it,’ he’d say, ‘and see where the issue is and what you can do about it,’ Words to live by.

Though my father wound up with two daughters, he encouraged us to develop our ‘boyish’ interests and fostered our curiosity. He was always tinkering and, having been educated as a mechanic and, later, a horologist, he loved fixing stuff. Cruelly, he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer just two years after retiring.

He’d never smoked, had lived an extremely clean and active life… and I was angry and stunned that he, of all people, should be cursed with this. But my father never flinched, never asked why. When I wept, he smiled, looked at me and said ‘Everyone has to die some time.’

Yet he fought to live. He never gave up, did every single thing the doctor suggested–sometimes twice. He tried so hard and I hated myself for not being able to help him beat it–because he’s raised me to be a problem-solver and I hadn’t failed yet. In the two years between diagnosis and his death he quietly went along and did what he loved doing–fixing and building and tinkering. And I watched, wanting to do the best I could but knowing the odds were stacked against us.

Born in Greece, his family had immigrated to Bulgaria when he was two. He’d grown up poor–the life of a typical immigrant anywhere. He was one of five siblings and they were all very close. My parents went to Bulgaria almost every summer, hoping to retire there. Just a month after they’d gone back my father was diagnosed.

But his death is a very small part of his life. Angel was an angel and every time I turn on the table saw and try to figure out how to make something I think of his advice: ‘Stand back and see where the problem is. Then see how you can fix it.’ My life is permeated with his voice, quietly agreeing and rarely disagreeing with my mother, with memories of his enjoying my back yard and puttering about the river bank at the edge of my property. Right before he went into hospice my sister Sofia and I took him there, to sit by the river and enjoy the view. It was summer, somewhat hot but he was beaming. A summer thunder storm came suddenly and we hustled to get him out of the rain. My sister and I struggled with the wheelchair in our haste and couldn’t get it to work. He smiled, raised his hand and said: ‘See where the problem is first.’ The wheelchair had been in the ‘locked’ position….

Though I’m 47 and should know better, I can’t help but chuckle daily at all the ways he’s still with me– because he was my biggest teacher first, my biggest fan second. Any time I’m frustrated I recall the oft-repeated phrase I heard as a kid… stand back, assess, figure it out.

I loved him and miss him daily.

– Monika Fauci

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From long-time HfH guests Tad and Nancy Huston

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