Letter from Publisher
Jun 01, 2017 04:14PM
In 2011, when I decided to quit my corporate job and start my own business as the publisher of Natural Awakenings magazine, most of the people in my life thought I was crazy. The one person who was my strongest and most passionate supporter was my father, Allen. He’s the one who believed in me and pushed me to follow my dreams. He told me to go for it, take a risk and live life to the fullest. That story epitomizes my wonderful father, who passed away on April 26, 2017; he was 83 years old.
I find myself struggling with writing about my dad, because it seems impossible to simply sum up a person who truly led an extraordinary life. What keeps coming to me are pictures of precious moments in time that are mostly mundane. In my earliest memories, I am sitting on my dad’s shoulders on one of many long hikes. A great lover of nature, animals and the outdoors, he was happiest in his canoe, camping or hiking through the California redwoods. In my mind’s eye, I see my dad in his canoe, gliding through a lake in the Sierra Mountains, one of his favorite places to be, surrounded by trees, wildlife and the sun sparkling atop the clear water.
Perhaps the phrase “Renaissance man” is overused, but it could accurately describe my father; he was a painter, sculptor, philosopher, poet, playwright and walking encyclopedia; he spoke six languages and recited Shakespeare at every opportunity. I recall him using every tree stump along a hiking trail as a podium from which to recite Hamlet and Macbeth. I remember him leading guests on lengthy tours of his artwork displayed throughout the house. I fondly recall my dad sitting at the kitchen table with my son, Yonatan, who was just 4 years old at the time, drawing and patiently teaching him techniques; subsequently holding up each of Yonatan’s drawings with pride and exclaiming about his artistic talent.
My dad loved deep intellectual discussions; we enjoyed countless dinner table conversations about history, philosophy, religion and humanity. Yet, he also could see the humor in every situation and loved to tell jokes; he is the funniest person I’ve ever known.
My favorite thing to remember about my dad is that he had a huge, kind and loving heart. In his job as a psychologist, he was highly skilled and in demand; yet he chose to leave private practice and join child protective services as a social worker in Contra Costa County, California, which was home to some of the toughest and most troubled neighborhoods. He dedicated his career to advocating for, and protecting, children at high risk.
It is a strange feeling to lose a parent. Aside from the deep sadness, there is a feeling of a vast empty space behind me, where his support and special connection to our family’s lineage and history used to be. Where once there was a rock, now I need to be the rock.
Dad, I am so blessed to have had you as my father, and I love you so much. You have been a light shining very brightly in this world, and in your memory, may the contributions you’ve left continue to bless those whose lives you’ve touched.
Gabriella Buchnik, Publisher