Friday, May 29, 2009

"A Rich, Full, Colorful Life"

My father always said, "I have lived a rich, full, colorful life" and he most certainly did.

This is by far the most difficult post I have written to date. My father was my inspiration. His entire life, Dad lived Positive Adaptation and by example taught me; I merely named it.

I lost my father one year ago, however, this is not a sad post, in fact, quite the opposite. His incredible spirit, joie de vie, (love for life) and what he taught me, (now I hope you), will live on forever.

My father's life was the personification of Positive Adaptation; how we can all Think, Feel and Do 'better', be and do our best and 'enjoy life to the fullest' when we incorporate it as a way of life. "As long as you are breathing, it is never too late", (just one of many 'Dad-isms' I live by, now).

Dad was born in Germany, (1926), just before Adolf Hitler came to power. He was a very happy, rambunctious kid, with many friends and loved his family.  One day, after reading Hitler's "Mein Kampf" my grandfather decided it was time to go, leave Germany and go to America.  Later, when asked why he was choosing to leave, my grandfather simply stated, "because I have three sons".

My father took a long boat ride and one morning, upon awaking, he saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time. Thus began my father's life long love affair with The United States of America.  

At the age of 7, it was decided at Ellis Island, he would no longer be called by his name, Helmut. He had the difficult task of accepting the name Bernard as his own, (an Americanized version of his middle name, Bernhardt). This was just one of many changes which would occur in his life. Dad's positive attitude and uncanny ability to adapt to change served him well then and throughout his entire life of 82 years.

I could never, especially in a venue like this, speak of all of my father's trials and tribulations, more importantly, his successes and joys. Let me just say that the same boy who came to America only nine years earlier became an Eagle Scout at the age of 16.  He said that that process truly 'Americanized' him, once and for all. One year later, at 17, Dad enlisted in the U.S Army to go back to Germany to fight to defeat Hitler and may years later, he would retired as a Brig. General from the Army Reserves.  As Dad used to say, "Only in America".

'Bernie', as he would later be called was the kind of man that would literally give you the shirt or tie, off his back. I know of several occasions someone would compliment him on a let's say a tie he was wearing. He would respond, "Here, if you would enjoy it, take it" and he would take the tie off and give it to them.

He loved his family, his work as a Professor, being of assistance to others in his community,  (the world) and lived each day with "Verstandt", German for a 'great understanding and appreciation of' how fortunate he was. My father was not a saint or perfect.  He only tried to do and be his best and because of this, he succeeded much more than he failed. Last, but not least, my father was often heard saying, "I am blessed". All those who knew him felt the same way about having him in their lives.

Although it took me a long time, (I was a late bloomer), I finally got it! Even when it did not look like it, Dad always had faith in me that I would. I have learned to Think, Feel and Do my way into becoming the best I can be, do the best I can do, try to help others, love a lot and enjoy life to the fullest!

I offer this way of living to you, a gift from 'Bernie' and me. Remember, as long as you are breathing, it is not too late. I know he would want you to have this too.

Thanks, Dad. You still are and always will be, the best!
Your loving daughter and student of life,

More about Dad and me, coming for Father's Day! (Pics too)

Photo by: Renee Rendler-Kaplan, (Dad loved you too!)

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