Unedited – as spoken at his funeral
When I was a little girl, I sometimes went with my dad when he did rounds at the hospital on Sundays. He’d park me with the receptionist and go off to see his patients. When someone from the hospital staff came by, the receptionist would say, “This is Dr. Mintz’s little girl,” and they would reply along the lines of, “Dr. Mintz? How wonderful. We love your dad.” I remember feeling so proud to be his daughter, as if he must be someone very special for everyone to be so happy to meet me.
When he was short-staffed at his office one summer, I filled in. I was probably 15 or 16. I loved watching him with his patients. They were so genuinely fond of him. When we met, they were surprised that I was so grown-up; they thought the doctor had little girls because the only picture he had of his daughters in his office was from when we were quite young. In many ways, for him, we remained frozen in time as his little girls.
Despite his ability to charm patients, he still had to chase me around the house and pull me out from under the sofa to administer a vaccine. Then he’d give himself a shot to demonstrate how simple it was going to be. I always wondered how he could do that.
But I had the utmost faith in my dad. I had to have some blood taken at the hospital once for reasons I no longer recall. He dropped me off at the lab and went to do something else. The person charged with taking my blood was having a hard time. They were on their third or fourth try and I was in tears when Dad returned. He immediately took over and in one try drew a vial of blood. At that moment I decided he could probably do anything.
My dad was a very smart man, with a great love of silliness. Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in was a favorite of ours and as he got sicker I’d tease him that he sounded like Artie Johnson growling at Ruth Buzzi, “Want a walnetto?” Monty Python’s Flying Circus also provided a lifetime of references guaranteed to produce an appreciative chuckle. I loved his sense of humor, the way he would groan with pleasure at a bad pun.
He loved the animated show, Rocky and Bullwinkle. At the least provocation he’d say, “Nothing up my sleeve.” And every birthday I’d get him a copy of Mad Magazine. Alfred E. Newman was another favorite of his and “What, Me Worry?” his watchword. He shared with us his great affection for Winnie-the-Pooh, Pogo, and Charlie Brown. No holiday season was complete without a family rendition of Deck the Halls with Boston Charlie. And he and I could do a mean chorus of “When the buzzards come back to Hinckley,” a song we learned from a comedy hour on the old WCRB radio station.
Making my dad laugh was one of the great joys of my life, particularly in the last couple of years.
There’s a picture of my parents as a young couple, mom’s pregnant, and they’re holding matching stuffed animals, dogs with long noses and floppy ears. I played with those dogs when I was a child and they were well-loved. They’re still in my childhood room, waiting patiently for attention. I can’t bring my dad back, but, with my mother’s permission, I’ll take those stuffed animals home where my husband will indulge my playful side, just like my dad always did.