My father, Sanford Cleveland Kahrmann, remains the greatest gift my life has ever given me. He was born 102 years ago today in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
I think my father and I found sanctuary in each other. When I was a little boy I would go to his room in the early morning, snuggle up next to him, and go back to sleep.
While my parent’s marriage seemed happy to me, I never heard them argue, they slept in separate rooms, we were told, because my mother was a light sleeper and my father snored. True on both counts.
My father taught English at Columbia University and John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and his desk faced the foot of his bed from about two feet away.
I liked to sit on the foot of his bed and watch him work. The paperwork that covered his desk was, for me, a delicious visual feast.
I’d be sitting there watching him work when I’d be overcome with surge of love for him, at which point I’d jump of the bed, run around his desk, and throw my arms around him. We’d hold our hug for a moment or two, and then I’d return to my perch. A short time later it would happen again. I’d run to him and hug him. He always hugged me back.
It wasn’t until years after he died at age fifty-five (I was fifteen) I discovered a gloriously love-filled truth hit me. Not once when I’d crawl into bed next to him or run around his desk to hug him was I rejected. He never responded as if I was a pain, a bother, rude – even worse, bad. No doubt, having your little boy climb into bed next to you in the early morning might wake you, and I know when you’re working hard at a desk, having your son rush into your arms every few minutes for a hug might interrupt the flow of things just a tad. He loved our rituals as much as I did. They meant just as much to him.
It didn’t matter if he was sleeping or working, what mattered to the two of us was the two of us. Father and son, para siempre.
Happy Birthday, Daddy. I would give up the rest of my life in a heartbeat to hug you again, just one more time.