Lionel Stander in "The Loved One" (1965)
My father died twelve years ago today. According to the Jewish calendar, this year the anniversary of his death isn't until December 18, but I lit a yahrzeit candle for him last night, since I live by the Georgian calendar. Besides, he was resolutely secular and for all I know, any religious observance has him spinning in his grave in a private section of Forest Lawn Glendale, CA, where angelic elevator music plays in an eternal loop. (Call it Evelyn Waugh's revenge...or Hell.)
This yahrzeit is especially resonant for me because his death was the penultimate event in what, until this year, had been the most calamitous 12 months in my life: financial woes, flu, sick kid, pneumonia, nasty boyfriend breakup, pneumonia relapse, 2 sinus infections, pneumonia again (in August!). To cap it all off, just a week after Dad died, my therapist was killed in a car crash. I was so broke, I couldn't afford to go to Dad's funeral (I was living in Maine), nor find another therapist.
After some more tough months, my life improved immeasurably, due in great part to a legacy from my father. (I had to fight for it tooth and claw, but that's another story.) He was acting in the above photo, but it was nonetheless characteristic. As his friend and director Tony Richardson well knew, Dad always had a cigar and, more often than not, a bottle of something strong--preferably vodka--within reach.