I heard it said that one doesn’t truly die ‘til people stop talking of him. It’s true. Twenty-nine years after my father’s “death”, (Yahrtzeit was Friday), his star shines bright. To this day friends tell stories and family looks back as Al Bogart lives.

He was the perfect blend of renaissance and resistance: the conduit of my dreams yet drummer of my reality. We shared thoughts and theories, laughs and losses… and time. Did I always agree with him? Hardly. Was his logic quixotic? Often. But were his actions ever less than honorable? Never.

Perhaps it was a blessing my parents divorced. At liberty to unveil past foibles, he spoke frankly when needed. “I tell you this not so you’ll laugh,” he would clarify, “But so you’ll learn from them.” In pain buoyed by love he’d remind me “You don’t have to make the same mistakes as me.”

—So we spoke of good things and bad, rough things, awkward things, and matters, YES, that others might not share with fathers. Still, though touching all bases he never spoke nonsense.

“How many quarts of water are there in Lake Erie?” I might ask.
“Why don’t you save that kind of question for Bobby or Stuart?”

Circumstances had made our relationship somewhat of a day-night doubleheader. He was there in the morning (‘ere our parents’ divorce), and he was there in the evening (having regained his stride).

(And he’s stayed for the post-game…in my heart).

—Which is why decades later… at forks in the road … to this day… I find myself wondering “What would my father think? What would my father do?”

—And why decades later … at forks in the road … to this day … I know what he’d say. And know what he’d do …

Even in this, a world he never would recognize.

Oh, to be sure, his thoughts could be numbing:

“The microwave,” he opined, “will be the downfall of the American family”. How we chuckled en masse — Harriet, Harold, Margie, me.
(But not my father…who if he were here today would pronounce he’d been right).

Or the time in ’72: Ohio State had reneged on its promise to me and with no political contacts he just picked up the phone and called down to the Statehouse … even scoring a meeting with Gilligan. It got us nowhere, of course, and my Dad couldn’t digest it.

“Rhodes may have been a crook,” he pointed out, “But he’d have done the right thing”.

So often he let heart trump cynicism and wink at life’s harsh realities—like when I’d chided him as Nixon resigned: “It doesn’t say much for YOU Bruce if you kick a man when he’s down.”

My father found a way to live with the carnage of his past mistakes and grant character to the thrust of his life. As such, he was larger than life…

And lives on.

I honor him to this day. And I cherish him to this day. And Yes, with laughter and tears I know even in now what he’d say of people, places and things that he just never laid eyes on.

The end of my marriage (early 90’s): “Unavoidable.”
Me drinking too much (late 90’s): “Don’t you have anything better to do with your time?”
Me entering a Twelve Step program: “What does Michael Jacobson think?”

From entertainment and sports…

Lebron James (2010): “He’s a schmuck”.
Lebron James (2014): “He grew up”.
Art Modell: “He forgot where he came from”.
Tattooed young celebrities: “Their parents must be so proud.”
Left-wing actors: “They should stick to acting.”
Right-wing actors: “They should stick to acting.”
Sophia Vergara: “Healthy woman.”
Jay Leno: “He couldn’t shine Carson’s shoes.”
Johnny Carson: “He’s funny, but he couldn’t shine Steve Allen’s shoes.”
Steve Allen: “Good, but did you ever see Jerry Lester?”

To politics and family…

Obama: “Not ready for prime time.”
Romney: “Don’t they have something better?”
Democrats: “No talent.”
Republicans: “No compassion but good for Israel.”
Aunt Helen: “I’m so proud of you boys.”
Hal: “Have you spoken to your brother lately?” (He’d be asking me daily).
My kids: “Are they OK? I don’t need details. Are they OK?”
My ex: “She knew how to play hearts.”
My job: “You should have stuck with sales. Look at your friend Marc.”
My core friends (Bobby, Mark, Stuart, Kraut, Walt, etc…): “You’ve been blessed.”
Carrie: “You found your Harriet.”

My Dad thrives in my spirit. Still smiling when I smile, still hurting when I hurt, he is here. I wish the Caryn Millers and Jason Bohrers in my life had gotten to meet him, but it wasn’t to be. They see him though — for whatever it’s worth — in me.

How lucky I am that my Dad’s still alive.

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