Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bar Mitzvah in Heaven

Yesterday marked the thirteenth anniversary of the passing of my father, Dr. Arnold Smason. Out of deference to him, I did not post a blog yesterday. A remarkable self-made man, he had a steel-trap mind with an incredible recall. As a youth preparing for school, I saw him reading the paper each and every morning. More times than not, he was busy finishing the crosswords AND completing the Jumble word puzzle. He read the bridge column by Goren every day and on several instances corrected the bridge grandmaster when he happened to make a mistake that my dad spotted. Of course, he had many accomplishments in life. He graduated from L.S.U. with a chemical engineering degree, worked with uranium isotopes at Oak Ridge on the then-secret Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb, found himself discriminated against in the petrochemcial industry, reacted to that with enrollment in optometry school, became one of the youngest heads of an optical department in the country, emerged as one of the earliest practioners of contact lens technology, and married my mother. His dedication to his career and to providing for his family was of paramount concern. It was very difficult to be my father's son because the bar was raised so high. Much was expected of me and, in truth, I am sure I did not live up those hoary expectations. C'est la vie. While it may be true that he worked very hard, there is also no doubt that he enjoyed his life. He had a wonderfully developed sense of humor. According to Jewish tradition, the thirteenth anniversary of one's passing is considered "the Bar Mitzvah in Heaven." That may be especially appropriate since my father never became a Bar Mitzvah as a thirteen-year-old. Regardless, he always felt it was essential that any Jewish man should belong to a synagogue, which is why he maintained his synagogue membership for over four decades. He was a Past Master and Treasurer for his Masonic lodge and for the Jerusalem Shrine Temple, which he served as both Potentate and Recorder. I could probably reel off several stories about my dad, some of which would be highly motivational and others that might serve as testaments to his eccentric nature. His epitath reads "A man of vision," which was absolutely true, figuratively and literally. For those of us who knew him and loved him, he is still missed to this very day.

1 comment:

Arlene said...

I'm terribly sorry to correct your article, but your father did indeed become a Bar Mitzvah. He memorized his torah portion using transliteration. Maybe you recall the first line of his famous speech, "Anti-Semitism is as old as the Jews themselves!" It's the Smason's version of JFK's, "Ask not what....." I know of at least 2 Smason males that delivered the same speech!