time our eyes met, he raised one hand -- IV attached-- to give me a “V for victory” sign. He smiled. Atage 63, he was whip-smart, ambitious, still a bit of the prankster, and, remarkably, he had barely awrinkle to mar his beautiful face. Tragically, the surgery to repair his damaged heartfailed. Or, as the physicians explained, the operationhad actually gone well, but in the end they could notprompt his heart to beat on its own again. It was anoutcome no one had expected, really. Dad wassupposed to make it through the surgery. We allbelieved he would. That evening I drove my family home and whimpereduntil I somehow faded into sleep, aware with anunaccustomed clarity that my own world had justchanged forever. Dad had died.We buried him the following afternoon, in accordancewith Jewish tradition. (He always used to say to hisfamily, “When I die, just throw me in a ditch.” Ha! That’s the kind of devilish fellow he was.) Severalweeks later I returned to the cemetery and stretchedout on the moist grass beside his grave site, toreminisce and maybe to reconnect. I’d like toimagine this behavior as wholly rational for a sonwho’d had a complex and not always idealrelationship with his father. (Once, he slapped me ata seder dinner table when we had guests. You don’tforget that kind of humiliation.) But I deeply lovedhim, and he loved me, his only son, and I could notbelieve that he was gone.