He also competed in the Pan American games, the Maccabi games, and many regional/national tournaments. He’s in 3 Hall of Fames.
Dad never boasted about any of this. Growing up, my siblings and I enjoyed hearing stories of his fencing days. He was clearly proud, yet his accolades were most often relayed to us by our uncles and mother. Years later, we’d learn even more about his accomplishments through reading newspaper clippings.
Dad’s trophies and medals lined our living room. I liked to read the plaques and run my hands over the golden fencer figure on top.
Our friends were impressed, though we usually had to explain the sport of fencing had nothing to do with backyard boundaries. Once the kids heard about swords, their eyes would pop. “Did he ever kill anyone?”
A portrait of my father wearing his Olympic uniform hung in our family room. I’m sure my mom put it up.
Throughout our childhood, our father’s quiet but powerful presence emanated from this painting.
It’s funny how family pictures can become part of the background noise that you don’t even notice, until one day, after not having seen it for many years, everything comes back.
Now, I can feel the weight of expectation, mostly unspoken, yet fully absorbed:
Work hard. Strive for excellence. Never give up. Face your fears.
Once, as a teen, one of my brothers asked Dad if he could wear his Olympic warmup jacket that hung in our front closet. His answer, delivered with a smile, surprised us. “No, because you didn’t earn it.”
Today, our father’s jacket is displayed in the Museum of Fencing.
There were other ingrained lessons, too, mainly taught by example, lessons I still try to live by.
*Be the better person
*Don’t hold grudges.
*Treat all people with respect.
*Practice good sportsmanship especially when you lose.
*Deflect uncomfortable conversations with humor.
*Admit and learn from mistakes.
*Be proud of your heritage
One of the special outcomes of this endeavor was hearing from children and grandchildren of Dad’s Olympic teammates.
The inscription on my father’s gravestone reads: Humble Champion.
The short phrase sums up a long and abundant life. ~