Category Archives: dad

September 24, 1919

On this day, the one hundredth anniversary of his birth, here are the thoughts I jotted down to read at his memorial service in 2001.

My dad was a teacher, and like many outstanding teachers, he never took time off from teaching. Sure, there were vacations and summers, but he was always on the job. If no students were around, he always had my sister and me.

I have put together some of his most important lessons into a set of guidelines that I call “Sam Elkind’s Guide to Living a Rewarding Life.”

First, stay connected. Pick up the phone, write a letter, send an e-mail. Don’t put this off. It’s just as important as the other things you’re doing. Call for no reason, just to check in and say “How ya doin‘?” He always did this, which is why his network of friends goes back to junior high and high school and extends to all corners of the world.

Treasure your friends and your family. Tell them you treasure them, using your own words.

Keep moving—physically, intellectually, and spiritually.

Read something challenging, try to understand it—and then talk to people about it. And don’t just talk to people who think the way you do. Mix it up a little.

Sit in the sun.

Take a nap.

Or, better still, combine these two things with a baseball game—but don’t necessarily follow the game. Go with friends or family and use the time together to talk about life and the arts and other things.

Lose yourself in music, any kind of music. Dance whenever you can. Teach your children to love music and how to dance. Consider it an honor to dance with them.

Be patient.

Retain a sense of wonder. Never cease to be amazed at things.

Keep an open mind and an open heart.

Be a good student.

When you screw up, admit it.

Keep someone’s legend alive. Tell the favorite stories over and over and laugh until you cry. Repeat as necessary.

Wear your heart on your sleeve. Tell the people you love that you love them. Look them in the eyes and tell them. And not just on special occasions.

Be a devoted brother, a good uncle, and a surrogate father to anyone who needs one.

If people do a great job and you are proud of them, tell them. Say, “You did a great job and I’m very proud of you.” Someone else’s success does not diminish your own.

Be generous with compliments and praise.

Eat with gusto.

Try to look good and keep your shoes shined.

Find the joy in simple things: a nice walk with a friend …a perfect, clear day…a great knish.

Be true to your teeth or they’ll be false to you.

Be there for someone. Be the person that people can talk to. Keep your door open.

If you have been lucky enough to find your passion, pursue it with all you have. Keep the passion alive by challenging yourself and setting new goals. Don’t rest on your laurels.

Plan your work and work your plan.

Always thank your cast and crew.

See the world and fall in love with new places, but always leave your heart in San Francisco.

And when you find that you can’t keep moving anymore, and you can no longer eat with gusto and it is time to rest on your laurels, then reflect on a life well lived. Tell your family, your caregivers and your many friends how much you love and appreciate them.

Give them a chance to say goodbye and thank you.

And finally, leave wonderful memories and your own legend for everyone to keep alive.

The World Works in Mysterious Ways: Birthday Edition

Today, November 14th, is my birthday. I’m moved, overwhelmed, and touched by all the birthday love I’ve received from friends and family. And here are two things that happened to mark this day in 2017: The dream I had night before last, where my sister appeared as a surprise visitor–here to spend my birthday withContinue Reading

The Shirt off His Back

 When my daughter was almost a year old and we lived in San Jose, I had the crazy idea to sew wool shirts for the men in my family: My dad, my father-in-law, my husband, and two brothers-in-law. Five wool shirts, with flat-fell seams, buttonholes, plaids to match, etc. Not sure what I was thinking,Continue Reading

From Manager to #1 Fan

  Here’s something you probably never imagined when your kids were little: There will come a time when you, the parent, are no longer the most important person in your child’s life. Over the years, so slowly you may not even notice, you will transition to a position of diminishing influence, and will lose theContinue Reading

My Passover Seder Memories: Not the long version

  The Passover Seder is a highly ritualized family event, during which children must wait patiently to eat dinner until the last plague is listed, the last bite of horseradish is choked down, the last prayer is read, and the last song is sung. Depending on how hard core the leader of the Seder serviceContinue Reading


Many, many years ago, my dad and I took my kids to Sacramento to visit the train museum. The museum has pictures of trains, train parts, memorabilia about the construction of the railroads in California (boring to the kids, but cool for the adults), and a number of actual cars you could go in. OneContinue Reading

A Made-Up Story

  It’s prom season! Time to pull this piece out again and give it a twirl.   I wandered into the makeup hub at Nordstrom a while back and the joint was jumping. As I strolled from counter to counter in search of the latest gravity-defying lotion, I noticed that the make-up artists were outContinue Reading

Heart on a Red Sleeve

It was destined to be one of those bad shopping days. Nothing fit, the colors were wrong, everything was too young, too old, too not-right. The racks in all the usual good luck places were out of magic. No marked-down sale items on hangers calling my name as I walked by. I remained unmoved byContinue Reading

Song for My Father

Tomorrow would have been my father’s 92nd birthday. He’s been gone ten years now. Sharing a laugh on Father’s Day My dad always told me that I was a writer. He said this with admiration, I think. He encouraged me to write and would often help me when I got stuck.  When I was taking anContinue Reading