101 years ago today my father entered this world as the firstborn to Jenny and Abe Moss. Over the next few years, he would become the big brother to Asher and Leiba. My father and his siblings had a remarkable relationship despite the variation in age as well choices for different lifestyles. As adults these three siblings and their spouses spent not only family time together with mother Jenny and father Abe, they double dated and vacationed together too.
I cannot imagine my father as a newborn or even a little boy as few pictures exist, however, if he was half the person as a child as he matured he must have been a remarkable individual.
Dad was born on June 8, 1917, and named Jay Moss. He was given the name Harmon years later when he suffered from Scarlet Fever. It is a tradition in Jewish Lore if a young person becomes ill and their life may be threatened they are prayed for in the name of their mother or given a second name of a deceased relative that lived a long life. The concept behind this was to confuse the “Angel of Death” therefore allowing your child renewed health. This is how my father obtained the name Harmon which became his calling card.
My father had many calling cards, and if you read the tribute my older brother Gary wrote you will note that our father wore many hats in his 87 years of life.(1)
I too have many fond memories of dad using his writing skills to pen unique words meant for the recipient to one of their favorite songs for a very special occasion. My father’s dream was to be a published songwriter, poet, and many of words, hence: Words by Harmon. (Occasionally as a child or even an adult, there were some sparing words between myself and my dad, but despite the sparks that may have flown and the stings, there was always a bear hug and one of his big sloppy kisses to reduce any fiery storm, living behind a few ashes.) What I remember most about my pop’s words were they were never delivered to cause pain, but increase the love he had for you (me).
J Harmon Moss had many friends, and even to this day if you mention his name in the Detroit, Michigan area, there are still people who remember my father even 14 years since he passed on to the highway in the sky. As his youngest child, and only daughter, I kevel when others mention the special person this man was. The love of his life, my mom, was treated like an angel. Despite the “bickering,” they loved each other beyond word, even Words by Harmon. My parents had a unique relationship, they bickered and kissed, held hands, and bickered some more. (It sounds like the relationship I have with my husband Richard, a real loving friendship plus much more.)
I could sit here and write many more accolades to this man who suffered throughout his life with angina pain and many other chronic issues including spinal stenosis that caused him so much pain his smile turned upside down, however, he would hide it the best he could. However, when I saw him enter a room if he was not smiling, I took it personally and assumed it was my fault. As a young child I would run from the room and hide, it took me until my late teens to understand I did not have that much power over my dad’s emotions. The only power I had was to be loved for me and love him in return.
Pop’s died on my 20th wedding anniversary. February 3, 2004, will always be etched into my brain as the day my father was finally at peace without pain. I know if he had a choice and could have continued to fight for life he would have, but years of chronic heart ills were just too much for him to continue. Since that day I have remained connected to his spirit and the love he instilled in me. I will continue to celebrate his life and wish him a HAPPY BIRTHDAY.
(1) Tomorrow is June 8th, my dad’s birthday. In the years since his passing I take pause and remember less and less other than on special days. Jun 8 is one of those days. There are a small set of photos below that cement specific moments but what about all those other times? There were times during every day that dad spent reclining in his generic Lazy Boy. I think about dad a lot these days when I’m kicking back in my recliner. I have a lot of food issues. Whenever I find myself giving in to that sugary treat in the evening I can hear dad giving himself permission to enjoy his ‘mychel’. I love and cherish the alone time I spent with dad, working as his ‘hopper’ on his milk truck. He taught me to enjoy potatoes with my breakfast eggs; we chanted morning prayers whiling delivering milk, butted, and cottage cheese. •There’s a current advertisement on the radio for Gettl Air Conditioning. The speaker reflects about a time growing up when he accompanied his dad (an air conditioning repairman). He held a flashlight for his dad while he worked. I recall going along with my dad when he repaired Juke-Boxes; going along when dad delivered candy from his candy-truck route; spraying the power-hoses and chiseling away the excess mortar when dad was a Brick Cleaner on newly built homes. •When I was opening my Pre-School in 1968, dad shared his woodworking skills by helping build play furniture and shelving used throughout the school. We built most of it in my garage on Kipling in Oak Park, MI with table saws and tools from Sears. • Then there were our golf outings. In addition to learning about driving and putting I learned valued skills in club throwing and cussing. •Dad was one of the bravest men I’ve known. He underwent his first open-heart bypass surgery when the procedure was in its infancy.
What a guy!