A Tribute to My Father, Ed Axelrod
On this Father’s Day I’m reminded of so many things that make up the man I most admired. I was blessed to have more than 50 years with Ed Axelrod. His passing in 2006 left a big hole in my life.
That day he left us I sat at his dining room table and spent the next 24 hours scribing his life story. By the next morning, “A Tribute to My Father” became a 1640 word catharsis for me, and a fitting tribute to a man whose personality and stature were bigger than life.
The Rabbi said it was the most moving eulogy he heard in his 30 years of presiding over funerals. It is the most inspired written work of my life.
Dad, I miss you every day, especially today. You are always with me.
A Tribute to My Father, Ed Axelrod
Words alone cannot describe you, Dad,
To measure the impact on our lives you had.
I speak about you in the present not the past,
Because who and what you are forever will last.
You’re the Patriarch of our family, the one and only ED.
I feel you in my heart, and I hear you in my head.
You’re the Number One son, the eldest of your generation,
You are first to arrive at every family celebration.
You looked after Grandpa Julius and cared for Bessie your Mother,
You adored your sister Eleanor and loved Marvin your brother.
The first time you saw Mom you said, “You’ll be my wife.”
For more than 50 years you and her shared a life.
As the last child to come, the baby of eight,
I watched you, our Captain, steer our family ship straight.
There is Steve and Diane, Ralph and Patty Lou,
Max and Charlie, George Thomas and me, too.
Daughters in law and sons in law you took into your home,
You treat each and every one of them like they were all your own.
Along came the grandchildren, you have 21,
Three dozen more great grandchildren to add to the fun.
Aunts, uncles, and cousins too numerous to mention,
Nieces and nephews love you, without exception.
You are firm in all weather, steadfast in any storm,
You lead by example, always substance over form.
You know who you are, you’re comfortable in your skin,
You don’t play not to lose you play life to win.
You follow your conscience and do what is right,
You meet any challenge, confront any fight.
You don’t seek approval or a pat on the back,
You know from inside you are on the right track.
You believe in justice and a sense of fair play,
You can sniff out the BS from a mile away.
You know how to fix anything, you can use any tool,
You are talented, skilled, and stubborn as a mule.
Into your 70’s you played paddleball,
You took on all comers, and you could whip them all.
You didn’t smoke or drink, never had a hot toddy,
There wasn’t a prejudiced bone in your body.
You didn’t judge people by the words they said,
You watched and observed the deeds that they did.
You invested your life in doing for others,
You gave all you could to my sisters and brothers.
The first person we call whenever there’s trouble,
You’d jump in the car and be there on the double.
Our home was always open for a good meal to eat,
The stories and laughter and Mom’s cooking were a treat.
You wanted the best for all of your kids,
You sacrificed a lot so we could have what we did.
You are my coach, my friend, and my mentor,
Your priceless advice no money could pay for.
You set my moral compass, and gave me protection,
When I was aimless you gave me direction.
You are generous, selfless, friendly, and kind,
Cantankerous, feisty, and sometimes a pain in the behind.
Dependable, honest, steadfast, and true,
For 21 years you wore NYPD Blue.
After you retired from the Police Department,
You became an expert at managing real estate apartments.
You are charming, funny, athletic, and strong,
Humble, compassionate, and can admit when you’re wrong.
You’re direct, even handed, do your best to be fair,
To the people you love, you give the very best care.
You are a character, unique, one of a kind,
You have a quick wit, and a razor sharp mind.
At 15, you went to college you were the smartest kid in class,
You could do the Sunday Times crossword in an hour, sometimes half.
You have good perspective, you give sound advice,
I can talk to you about anything, I trust you with my life.
When I was 10 I was afraid of thunder and lightning,
So you walked with me in a rainstorm, to show me it wasn’t frightening.
You are tough and yet, unconditional in your love,
Your wisdom seemed divinely inspired from above.
You taught me so much, you showed me the ropes,
No matter how tough things got, you always had hope.
I learned to love music from your favorite radio show,
WNEW – AM 1130.
You liked Ella, and Benny and all the Big Bands,
But at the top of the charts, Old Blue Eyes was your man.
Realistic and optimistic, you see the good in others,
You provided for Mom, and my sisters and brothers.
You schlepped Mom to Bingo often 3 times a week,
Even when you were tired, and didn’t get much sleep.
When it comes to saving money you have some quirky ways,
You drive miles for a bargain, and the double coupon days.
You buy boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff,
Cereal, detergent, fabric softener and fluff,
Toilet paper, shampoo, and deodorant, too,
You have razors and shaving cream out the Wazoo.
There was so much crap stacked ceiling to floor,
Sweet ‘n Low, raisins, and tissues galore.
Mom would get mad cause she couldn’t close the door,
To the closet that was home to Ed’s Discount Store.
As a buyer sometimes you can be oversold,
As a giver, your heart is made of pure gold.
You are old school,
You suffer no fool.
You have little patience for people in the way,
“It’s better to give ulcers, than to get them,” you’d say.
You have no time or tolerance for those who are petty,
But you have a big soft spot for Uncle Buster and Aunt Betty.
You are quite a pair, our Annie and Ed,
Funny as Lucy and Ricky, or Ethel and Fred.
All my friends played softball, they called us the Dubres,
Every Sunday without fail Mr. and Mrs. “A” watched us play.
No matter the score when you look into the stands,
You see our two biggest fans clapping their hands.
In 1996 you made Mom’s dream come true,
You retired to Florida to begin life anew.
You made lots of new friends, there was no one above you,
100 people came to your memorial service to say that they love you.
You’re a man so well loved up North and down South,
We need two services so everyone could come out,
To pay our respects to a man we adore,
Dad, they ain’t making ’em like you anymore.
Never half hearted, always prepared,
Brave and courageous you never seemed scared.
You didn’t let on to the pain you were in,
You just pick up head and stick out your chin.
Right to the end you were cracking jokes,
You have a great sense of humor you like laughing the most.
Through everything we faced, you were always our ROCK,
I am grateful beyond words to come from your stock.
You are rich in so much more than money,
You have the love of everyone, especially your honey.
Two years ago you suffered the loss of your dear Ann,
Mom was your soul mate, the Yin to your Yang.
You and Mom are joined forever,
A match made in heaven where you are now back together.
You lived for each other and the family you had,
We are blessed to have you as our Mom and our Dad.
Everyone who knows you can tell an “ED” story,
How you enriched their lives not for your own personal glory.
Whether we call you Dad, grandpa, uncle or friend,
We will never forget you until our days’ end.
Last week you told Max, “I had a good run.”
In your heart you knew that your work here was done.
You said to me, “Mitch, I’m ready to go,
Tell everyone I love them,” I said, “Dad, they know.”
Even ravaged with terrible pain,
I never once heard you explain or complain.
Strong to your last hour, you fought to the end,
Your body was broken, but your will would not bend.
With your children beside you as you took your last breath,
Surrounded by love you passed on to eternal rest.
You came into this world in your Mom and Dad’s home,
You left it the way you wanted, in the bed of your own.
You made quite a life for a nice Jewish boy,
You busted a lot of chops, and you spread a lot of joy.
You gave us all a piece of your heart,
We cherish you Dad you will never depart.
You’d encourage us to remember that life goes on,
You’d remind us to sing Mom’s favorite song,
Today we are filled with sadness and sorrow,
You’d be the first one to tell us, “The sun will come out tomorrow.”
Today the World is a little bit lighter,
The Sun has a new star to help it shine brighter.
My greatest blessing in life is being my son’s father,
Being my father’s son is my biggest privilege and honor.
When it’s time for me to face the end of my days,
I hope to be loved in so many ways.
You may leave us in body, but your spirit lives on.
When I need to find strength, I’ll call to you beyond.
The roar of this Lion cannot be silenced; no never,
Your influence will guide us forever and ever.
Dad, you never sought acknowledgement or asked for applause,
Everything you did, you did JUST because.
This is an occasion to be solemn and pray,
For us to remember you in our own special way.
But today I ask that we depart from tradition,
To give you what you deserve, our love and recognition.
Please STAND with me now, and put your hands together,
Let’s give Dad an ovation he’ll remember forever.
I love you, Dad.
Rest in peace.