Mountain View, California, 1958
There is a bubble I live in, sometimes happily, sometimes not.
As terrible as my relationship with my father was, I was proud of his integrity in business and the things he accomplished. Today I learned something new about his life before he got married. When Shepherd's Hotel burned down during the riots in 1952 my grandfather lost everything in his shop. He went from being fabulously wealthy to having nothing in one night. My adult uncles all left for Europe or the US to make a new life except my dad's little brother. My grandfather had gone blind so my father stayed in Cairo to work and support his parents and to rebuild his father's business. That doesn't surprise me, that's the type of man my father was. It hit me today that I need to find out all I can before my mom is gone.
I was born during the war of '56. In 1957 my dad came to the US to start a new life for us. In 1958 he had enough money to bring my mom and I to the US. We lived in a 3 bedroom house with his brother and sister in law, their baby, and another brother. He never cheated anyone, never lied, never broke his word to anyone but me. He spoke and wrote 3 Arabic, French and English fluently, 4 if you count heiroglyphics. Though he couldn't write in them, he spoke a enough Spanish, Italian and German to get by. He started college and though it broke his heart he didn't finish. He was a bartender nights and ran his store during the day. Mama worked in a factory. I can imagine how hard it was for him when he came to this country, I just wish he hadn't been so angry at me about it. I wish when things had gotten better he had softened.
Today I got a call from one of the reporters at The Idaho Statesman. This week it's her turn to write a story in remembrance of someone local who had recently passed away. She read the brief obituary I'd written for my father and said he sounded fascinating. She said the obit teased her and she wanted to know more. We set up a phone interview and she'll be calling my daughter to get more information. I provided a few photos of the larger-than-life man my father was. This Sunday he'll be on the cover of their Lifestyle Magazine.
After I hung up, mama dug out old letters and books where his name was mentioned. Even a booklet from when we moved to Hawaii and the people in La Haina wanted him to run for Mayor. Letterhead from the old shop in Cairo proudly stating "Antiques Dealers By Appointment to His Majesty King Farouk I." Letterhead from every shop he opened in the US. Letters from museum buyers and curators, scientists and egyptologists. A lifetime's correspondence of business and friendship. A life's list of successes and failures, all shoved in boxes and files.
He was a joker and a story teller. I have the typed story he wrote about Bouly, the tiny plastic doll my 14 year old mother gave him as a good luck charm before one of his many buying trips to Europe. He probably forgot he gave me the only copy, I kept it. He took Bouly on every trip for the next 65 years. Silly that he took Bouly with us all those times to China. I wonder how many years he was in love with my mother before she was old enough for him to approach about marriage? I have Bouly now too, she's sleeping between the lamp and the alarm clock. Keeping me safe.
Mom and dad in Paris before they married.
Trinkets and papers, the things left behind. I'd like to write about my father but I don't know where to start. Sometimes I really hate it when new things come into my safe little bubble world.
Edmond “Robert” passed... Born Apr 29, 1923 in Cairo, Egypt he is survived by his wife, daughter Doris, granddaughters, grandson-in-law and great-granddaughter. Robert traveled the world and was a lifetime student of Egyptology and Antiquities. A happy prankster, he told fascinating stories and jokes that kept everyone laughing. An honorable man with a big heart, he was deeply loved by family and friends; he will be missed by all.
Many of his stories are imprinted in my mind. There is a lot more I want to say.