In 2011 I wrote about why Labor Day isn’t a great day for me – you can read that here. It was the first time since 2005 that September 5 fell on Labor Day and now here we are again. It seems fitting that Dad died on Labor Day – the guy who loved his job worked on Friday, spent a nice weekend celebrating his 55th wedding anniversary, and then died on Labor Day.
But enough of that. I want to remember my dad as a vibrant man so today I spent some time looking through photo albums (yes, I have actual albums) and decided to share some photos from the last several years of his life. Memories seem to fade as the years go on (and I get older) and I want his descendants to know what a great guy he was.
Dad was happiest when he was with “the people” – he loved to be among the crowds but he also loved spending some quiet time with his family. He was a devoted son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, and for a few short years, great grandfather.
Gordon, Loraine (Gunzendorfer), Sig, Robert Levy
I think the happiest day of Dad’s life was September 3, 1950, the day he married my mother, Geraldine Martin. Talk about devotion – he was devoted to her until the day he died. Even though his health was failing and it was hard for him to get around, whenever possible he’d try to drop her off close to the door of wherever they were going and go off to park the car himself.
Gordon Levy and Geraldine Martin
September 3, 1950
He was also devoted to his older brother, Robert. Even though there were many miles between them they never let that stop them – thank goodness the telephone was invented!
Gordon and Rob Levy
I do remember having a 50th birthday party for Dad. It was in their home and I have a few very fuzzy memories but this photo seemed to capture how much Dad enjoyed it. In fact, this photo pretty much captures how much he enjoyed life.
I’ve posted lots of pictures of Dad as a kid and young father. But what I remember most about him was as a grandfather. Whenever we’d show up at the house he’d open the front door and immediately exclaim “what are these KIDS doing here”? But I know he loved nothing more than seeing them. It wasn’t too often we were able to capture photos of Dad since he was usually the photographer but once in awhile he humored us.
Dad, me, Mom
My two kids – their first grandchildren
My parents were members of the San Jose Country Club for probably 40 years and loved to entertain there. Many family celebrations were held there – in fact, I was married there – and, thus, many photos opportunities took place. Mother’s Day, 2004 was no exception as we all gathered there to celebrate.
Gordon and Gerry (Martin) Levy
And then came great grandchildren. Sadly, only one had been born by the time Dad died and there were only a few years of them to spend together. But I know he loved seeing her and just might have even said “what is this KID doing here”?
The last time we were all together as a family was October, 2004 when our youngest daughter was married. And as Dad was known to do, he got a little emotional but did manage to give the bride a very special kiss.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was clear that the years were getting the best of him but he would never, ever complain. After all, he was the IRON MAN!
A few months later, we were in San Jose and I was able to spend some time with Dad, never knowing it would be the last time I would see him. Of course we had meals out (he hated the fuss of people cooking) and I was able to get one last photo with him.
Dad and me
And then came Labor Day, 2005. The day that changed the lives of so many people. It seemed fitting to gather one last time to memorialize Dad, a guy who was such a huge part of so many lives, on September 11. It was already a sad day so we might as well make it even sadder. People came from near and far to pay their respects and after the service, we joined in the “party” room at the Temple to share our memories. The littlest family member, 3 1/2 year old great granddaughter, told it best when she returned to school a few days later and told the staff “my great papa DIE-ED, and then we had a party”. Ahhh, but little ones know what is most important in life.
The following month my husband, siblings and I joined together with Mom and the Rabbi to place him in his final resting place overlooking the Santa Clara valley, the place he loved so much.
Husband, me, Mom, sister, brother, Rabbi
Oak Hill Memorial Park
And he would have loved that we left him with some very important mementos – his treasured Stanford cap and the Rotary coin he kept with him always.
Gordon Floyd Levy
February 11, 1927 – September 5, 2005
Oak Hill Memorial Park – San Jose, California
In the event you want to know more about Dad’s life, last year I wrote about his life without focusing on his death. And who better to tell the story than the man himself. You can read it here.
I miss you every day, Dad!