He wanted me to get good grades, a college degree and have a profession – something safe and preferably lucrative, like medicine or the law. He couldn’t understand someone’s wanting to write for a living. Still, when I sold a poem for fifty cents at the age of thirteen, he cashed the check for me – and only much, much later did I find out that forever after he carried that check folded up in his wallet.
We buried my father this afternoon. I didn’t think I would, but I shed tears. I cried because he had worked too hard for too long for too little. For many years, I had resented him because he had never told me he loved me; now I wept because I’d never told him.
The rabbi’s speech was short and simple. What is there, after all, to say at the funeral of such a man? Had the responsibility been mine, I would have said: Sam Prelutsky, who was born in a small village 7,000 miles from here, sixty-seven or sixty- eight years ago, was a remarkable person. He was not a great man or a famous man, but he was the best man Sam Prelutsky could be. Now, let there be no more tears today, for we are laying to rest a man who’s earned one.