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No one wants to belong to this club

June 30, 2011 2:14:48 PM PDT
Thanks to everyone who sent in messages about my dad.

It's a club, really, those whose parents have died. We wish we weren't in it of course, but somehow there is comfort in knowing that, while our pain is our own, there is a shared grief as well. I understand it every time a friend's father or mother dies, and I know what they're feeling in a way that, before my parents died, I couldn't possibly comprehend.

Which is why it's a kind of club I suppose.

Many of you wrote that lighting a candle is a great way to remember, and I've done that for both my folks, just as I watched them do it for their parents on their yartzeit, the Hebrew word for the anniversary of a death. I'm hoping that - 40 or so years from now - my own children will follow suit.

One thing I do differently is that I do NOT let the candle burn until it's extinguished, as my parents did. I'm simply far too conscious of the dangers of open flames - we cover too many stories of family tragedies sparked by a candle - to let a candle burn, unattended. So I light it, feel a comfort, and then when I leave the house I blow it out.

Truth be told, I whisper "I'm sorry" when I blow it out. I think my mom would agree with my decision. I think my dad would say I'm nuts.

I have told this story before, about the day my dad died, but I briefly re-tell it because it is as much a part of this day as my memory of my dad itself. It's called, in Judaism, "Taharah," the preparing of the body. And I'd never heard of it until my father died. At the urging of my brother-in-law, we went and performed it.

And, with the exception of the births of my three children, it was the most emotional experience of my life. I bathed my father's body, dried him, dressed him in his suit and tie, and then lifted him, with the help of straps powers by a small hydraulic lift, into his coffin.

I swaddled him as he had swaddled me. And just as I have no memory of it, neither does he.

I share all this because I know from those of you who have written to me about this - memories of your parents, their lives and their deaths - are never far from the front burner. My folks felt the same way about their parents, after they died. I didn't fully understand it then, just as my kids couldn't possibly understand it now.

They eventually will.

Too bad we all can't stick around long enough to share all this. Wouldn't that be something.

I hope what's not lost in all this is the lasting impact we get from our folks; that's the reason we feel strongly about them for so long after they die.

I learned from my dad about hard work, and loving your family, and being honest and principled, and treating people with respect. I try but sometimes do not live up to his expectations. But I keep trying. Which I learned from him as well.

Time passing too quickly is what I'm learning from my folks since their deaths.

Thirteen years my father's been gone - or, the time between my birth and my Bar Mitzvah. A lot happens.

And with that, on to the task at hand - tonight's 11 p.m. newscast.

How in the world could a man with an expired boarding pass get on a plane at JFK headed to Los Angeles. It was a Virgin Atlantic flight, and that airline is now apologizing. As well it should. So should the TSA. I mean, isn't there someone there, at the beginning of security, checking that your ID matches your boarding pass, and, presumably, checking the boarding pass date as well?

I'm just sayin'.

Late this afternoon we learn that the TSA knows who the screener is (you'd hope so, right?) and at the least he or she will go through remedial training.

(Why do I feel that, if it had been me, I'd be fired?)

And then what about Virgin Atlantic's gate attendant? The boarding pass has to pass through a scanner. How did the scanner approve that boarding pass?

To the credit of a Virgin Atlantic flight attendant, she became suspicious of the man once the plane took off and asked to see his boarding pass. And so the captain alerted authorities in L.A., who were waiting for the flight and the man at LAX.

But why wasn't the plane turned around?

And, again, how did this happen?

We're trying to get answers tonight. But U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey summed it up best: "It is inexcusable that nearly 10 years after Sept. 11, a security breach like this could occur - especially at a major New York airport."

Also at 11, for anyone going through home construction or remodeling, an online service that connects contractors and customers - and offers some peace of mind. Tim Fleischer has our story.

And one other story that caught our interest and is worth a mention. A protest tonight by bicyclists who are ticked off at the NYPD over what's come to be known as the "New York skirt incident."

Maybe you've heard of it. A woman - pulled over by cops and threatened with a ticket because she was wearing a skirt and, I kid you not, was "showing too much leg" and distracting passing drivers.

Welcome to 1847.

In Saudi Arabia. I'm just sayin'.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast for the long holiday weekend, and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho (in for Sade Baderinwa) and me, tonight at 11.

And one more note, I'll be off Friday, and while I'll be at work Monday, the column will be dark. Have a great 4th of July. And be good to your 'rents!


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