PROVIDENCE – My first Father’s Day without a father will be empty. I still mourn the April 6 loss of him, his voice, his smile and his being. Those tangibles are gone forever, so I will try to fill my void with thoughts of his lessons, gifts and love that can never be taken from me.
Samuel Borger personified the “Greatest Generation.” The youngest of six children born to his immigrant parents, he had a strong foundation of love and family that overshadowed economic hardship. A World War II veteran, he came home with a secret memory bank of horrors and made his way in the world.
In my early years, my father was almost godlike to me. Not only was he the leader of our family and the founder of a successful business, but he was also a pillar of our Jewish community in York, Pa. He seemed bigger than life to me – perhaps because I was both awed by his many accomplishments and bursting with pride as his daughter.
He was my biggest fan and cheerleader and I spent much of my life aspiring to loftier goals, partially motivated by my desire for him to kvell about me as I did about him. When he refused an invitation from his largest supplier to play golf at a local country that denied membership to Jews, the outing was moved … and so many lessons were learned by so many people, including his children who understood the importance of standing up and being counted.
His lifetime of practicing tikkun olam taught us that we must not sit idly while there is so much to be done for others.
A self-made man, my father found his greatest pleasure in philanthropy, with his last but probably most meaningful, gift being the Sam and Adele Borger Campus of the Jewish Adoption and Foster Care Options) Respite and Family Resource Center in Florida.
Having grown up with a developmentally disabled sister, he was interested in this facility, which allows families of children with special needs to leave them in a caring environment for up to two weeks each year so that they can take a needed break from the everyday stress of caring for their children. He will not be there for its dedication next year but those who are will know that my father left this world a better place than he found it 89 years ago.
My dad always worried how I would cope with his loss. With my first fatherless Father’s Day approaching, it will not be an easy day, but it will be one with no regrets because we loved each other for 58 years. One of his lifelong lessons was that you have to roll with the punches; I’m rolling the best I can.
I will always miss you, Dad, but you left behind a strong, responsible daughter who will carry your name proudly and try to always bring you nakhes (joy and pride).
KAREN BORGER (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an independent sales representative for The Jewish Voice & Herald.