In Praise of Dad & Dads


My dad was about my age today in this photo taken in 1990 before my sister’s wedding.

My dad turns 80 on Friday.
I don’t think he’ll mind me revealing his age; he’s earned his stripes, it’s just a number and honestly  he looks 20 years younger. Seriously. He does.
My dad is a hero of mine.

I’ve been blessed to have had many heroes and heroines in my life, special people who have inspired me simply by living good and meaningful lives.
But no blessing is bigger than having a father and a mother who were wonderful beyond words.

We lost mom 20 years ago this October and we miss her every single day.  But we are so fortunate to have dad in our lives through the decades.
I’m especially lucky because he lives so close, just up the road from us.

I’ve spoken and written about my dad before. And everything I’ve ever said remains true: he inspires me, he motivates me, he counsels me and he has always been there for me and everyone in our small but close family.

As you get older, you begin to think about life differently.
You appreciate the present because you know good things can be gone in an instant. You also anticipate the future because life is good and where there is life there is hope. And you look back too and reassess.
When I look back one word comes to mind: luck. I am so lucky to have had a great dad.

My dad was a very hard worker. He spent hours and hours of his life running his pharmacy and we spent those hours with my mom who was warm, nurturing and very involved in our lives but never ever in an overwhelming way. No, she had just the right touch.

She also took care to ensure that my dad had his space and time to recover from the long hours. She looked out for him and always told us how hard he was working and how lucky we were. So gratitude was taught to me and my sister Sharon. You later learn that gratitude ensures happiness because you focus on what you have– not what you’re missing.

To my dad’s credit, when he was home he was present and so we have great memories: family trips, summers at the “pool club”, visits to the U.S. Open, memorable visits to see our grandparents, aunts and cousins and family dinners where we discussed politics and current events.

Those “wonder years” influence who you are. I believe we bring our own spirit to the world, but our parents shape who we become.  So I am a grateful son. And my sister  is likewise grateful.
As I reflect on Father’s Day and a milestone birthday this week, three words in addition to luck come to mind.

Reliable—my dad was reliable. He always made a living. Always came home right after work. Always was good to our mother. We always felt safe.

Reliable is an underrated word. But if you can rely on family and friends in a volatile world where we are oh so fragile..well..that’s ultra special. In a world of constant change and tumult, being reliable is an amazing gift. And when you are reliably good to people, let’s just say there are no words to describe how valuable that quality is.

Loving—We always felt loved. That’s what great dads do. There was no doubt that we were central to his life. His career was a important means to an even more important end. The end was family; a good life for our family.

Smart– My dad is an educated man. He graduated from an Ivy League school, had a successful career as a pharmacist and was a successful small business owner. All those require smarts galore. But my dad has smarts beyond those impressive things. He has the smarts that enabled him to live a great life. He just knows how to navigate the curveballs, deal with the inevitable setbacks, bounce back from the tragedies all of us endure and find a way to be happy. He always keeps his head about him. There’s that old reliability I told you about.

I could go on, but there’s really no words to describe someone who gave you everything and continues to give.
Happy birthday dad. Happy Father’s Day too. We love you.
And to all the dads out there thanks for all you do. I hope we all continue to dance for a long time.

My dad Sandy (we are Sanford and son) and his lovely life partner and main squeeze Fran.


  1. John Fitzpatrick says

    Beautiful, thoughtful and well-timed tribute to your dad, Jeff. I lost my Dad on Father’s Day the Summer before heading off to Oswego. While I feel blessed to have had him in my life for nearly 18 years, I’ve always wondered what difference his impact, insight and support would have made in my life these past few decades. But in many ways, his lessons and legacy still live on and affect me today. Like your dad, he was hard working, smart, reliable and let us know (in his own way) how loved we were.

  2. Sanford Perlman says

    I just read the article and I hardly ever get teary eyed. Thank you so much for the wonderful compliments. This is the greatest thing a father can hear from their own child. Thank you again-Love Dad

  3. Sanford Perlman says

    Dear Jeff, Thank-You so much for the wonderful article today. This is something every father would love to hear from his son. Love, Dad

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