Daddy’s Girl, a Tribute
April 13, 2014, by Cathy Fischer
This is an updated version of a post written for Father’s Day in 2008. Ralphael Benjamin Fischer passed peacefully on April 9, 2014, at age 91, surrounded by his loving family.
I don’t’ really see myself as a “daddy’s girl” but I sure do love my dad, and yes, he spoils me.
In some ways he’s typical of his generation, distant but close. Born in Poland in 1922, he lived through the horrors of WWII, lost his entire family, and amazingly rebuilt a life in France then the U.S. Both he and my mother worked in garment factories in New Jersey, then their own lumber and hardware store in South Central, L.A.; immigrants dedicated to giving their children everything they didn’t have.
In many ways my father Ralphie, as we liked to call him, was special — an unedited, unfiltered, tell-it-like-it is person, with a wicked sense of humor. He spoke his truth and people appreciated it. To say that he was a “character” is an understatement.
My father’s passion for music, film, and performance is something I inherited and treasure. One of my favorite memories is around age seven when on a rare Sunday when he wasn’t working, we would walk from our West Hollywood apartment to Hollywood Blvd to see a matinee, just the two of us. And although we never went to a father/daughter picnic and with his work schedule he missed many of my dance/drama performances, I still feel like he always cheered me on.
When shopping for a Father’s Day card, I never had an easy time of it. Year after year I would pass on the golfer, the grill master, the fly fisherman, and the beer-drinker. I always gravitated towards the humorous ones, cards that rang more true: a father holding out his empty inside-out pants pockets or ones that said, “When I think of all those years you provided a roof over my head, why did I ever move out?”
My brother Claude came up with the brilliant idea to give our father a computer for his 80th birthday and Ralphie took to it immediately. He would read newspapers online — in five different languages — and although he couldn’t type very well, he would forward me (sometimes multiple times) jokes that were “so-bad-they-were-good”; beautiful panoramic slideshows and performances (the Chinese State Circus Frog version of Swan Lake was a favorite); and the occasional baby animal “I love you” poem.
I always liked to keep Ralphie au courant. I bought him his first pair of bellbottoms in the ‘70s and fancy sneakers in the ‘80s. He was fashionable and appropriately hip. In his later years, he not only embraced the computer, but a brand new passion, the L.A. Lakers. He continued to love films, especially classic Westerns and MGM musicals. Recently, he took to social media by having his own Facebook page and got great pleasure from the 100 plus comments and “likes” he received on his birthday.
While he loved quiet time sitting in his lush green backyard and he also embraced bold symphonies played at full volume. My father appreciated the company of family and friends. He enjoyed having young people around; they cherished his stories, smart insights, and affectionate teasing, and felt honored to be called “hippy”, “baldy” or “zaftig ”.
Like I mentioned, Ralphie loved a good joke, like this one he forwarded to me a few years ago:
Subject: Getting Old in Florida
A man was telling his neighbor in Sun City Senior Center, “I just bought a new hearing aid. It cost me four thousand dollars, but it’s state of the art. It’s perfect.”
“Really,” answered the neighbor. “What kind is it?”
“Twelve-thirty,” he replied.
I gotta give props to my pops. A dedicated husband, grandfather, and father, my dad was the most genuine and generous man I’ve ever known. I am lucky and proud to be Daddy’s Girl.
My brother on our dad and the American Dream >>