To Abba, With Love

Written by Donna Star

June 11, 2024

This long email expresses my love for my dad on this third Father’s Day without him. Shockingly, I am unsure if I have ever shared my dad’s name, Abba, in my writing. Abba is Hebrew for Father. He was born Arthur Abraham Appelstein—a mouthful but easily shortened to Abba. On this Hallmark holiday, revisiting how well he embodied his name seems appropriate. Thank you for indulging me.

He loved hanging out with our family and our dog, Phidias, watching horrible horror movies (Godzilla?), and watching any sports available on TV. He enjoyed cooking his strange but delicious concoctions whenever the mood struck him. Chocolate pudding with the skin on top was a family favorite worthy of a good fight between my brothers and me. While my mother was a classically fantastic cook, my dad liked to tinker, and we were the happy, well-fed beneficiaries.

My dad was the Uber dad long before Uber, carting us around to various activities. He used to drive up and back to visit my middle brother and me (and our lucky roommates) in college—two hours each way for food deliveries. He drove during a pending hurricane to ensure my mother had enough of the only food she could digest.
Teaching me to drive was a completely different story 🤪.

When my mother became ill, he started doing the laundry, more of the cooking, and grocery shopping. Secretly, I think he loved shopping because he loved a good special. He clipped coupons, wrote illegible shopping lists (photo below), and was happy as a clam going to multiple stores to secure his goods. I know this to be true because I did some of his “shopping” during Covid. Who needs four cans of Hunt’s tomato paste?

In High School, I had a minor angry outburst and kicked my foot through the dining room wall. I was panicked that he was going to go apesh*t on me – he did not. Given his prowess with painting, he quickly patched the wall and painted it without a snarky word or punishment. Phew.

He wasn’t always this calm and had a bit of a temper. He didn’t have to do much when it flared. The vein in his forehead pulsed, and his eyes popped. When I saw the visible signs, I backed off immediately. I may/may not have inherited a bit of his temper. Hey, no one’s perfect 🙋‍♀️.

I miss his hugs, how his face crinkled up with joy during the hug, and his thick, Boston-accented voice leaving me a voicemail. I miss his well-timed and often sparse advice. I miss how he loved and united his family. He found a reason to celebrate even the smallest moments, frequently reciting his famous line, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

I try to honor his legacy every day. Life is good. Thank you for choosing me as your daughter, Abba. I love you always.

Happy Father’s Day.

Donna 🍎

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