by Ari Pescovitz
December 16, 2010
"UFB" my dad would say if he were the one giving this talk. With such a huge turn out he would have insisted on turning this into a fundraiser and charging twenty dollars a head for one of his many passions. Unfortunately... I have to try to give it.
From the day of my birth (my dad's 30th birthday) I have shared a special bond with my father. Beyond the usual requisites of a father, my dad was my best friend, my inspiration, and my strength. Growing up, my memories are filled with minor league baseball games, trips to the shooting range (against my mom's best judgment), afternoons at the opera, state fair, and art festivals, as well as a shared passion for travel and exotic food.
But no matter what activity, what will always stay with me are the conversations. Some knew my dad as a man of few but powerful, and often humorous, words, but the man I knew could talk for hours about everything. He taught me about science, always knowing the answer to a young child's questions. He taught me about what it means to observe the world around me and to think about everything, and he taught me, most importantly, how to make. To explore science, art, religion, not simply by observing and thinking but by creating and inventing.
I make art (and in particular Jewish art) as the highest manifestations of his gifts to me. I have never before made a work that I did not consult with him on. He was my truest critic. Always providing me with a helpful push while never doing any of it for me. A trait he learned from his own father. As I got older our conversations stayed diverse and as my knowledge grew they became deeper and richer.
Over Thanksgiving, Ramzy, my dad, and I took a walk through the foothills of Tucson, working on dad's final photo project for his class at Heron. Along the way, we discussed the evolutionary and developmental history of cacti and tried to understand their growth cycle and what caused a new appendage to bud. This conversation soon digressed into a witty mixture of quantum mechanics, anthropology, and art, often with pauses to consider how a particular photo shot may or may not work for his final assignment. This walk was not a rare occurrence. Every time we were together I could expect a similarly intellectual and inspiring discussion.
I want to be him, I want to think like him, I want to imagine like him, and I want to love life and everything in it as much as he did. From now on, however, I will have to use the imagination he instilled in me to complete the other side of these discussions, to act as my critic and supporter, and to approach the world the way he innately saw it.
I feel like the boy in the Princess Bride, our family's, and in particular our dad's, favorite movie, when the grandfather reads about the princess marrying the villain. The kid stops the grandfather in mid-sentence and says "That's not right, you're read it wrong." The grandfather immediately apologizes and says "that's what it says, do you want to stop reading?" To which the boy responds, "no its ok, please read on." And that is what I must be able to do. I must be able to go on with the book with the same conviction, strength, and imagination that have been fostered in me from the beginning. At the end of the Princess Bride, when the hero finally gets the girl, the hero remarks "Death cannot stop true love. It can only delay it for a little while." I will always love you dad.