Paul David Faw
Born December 24, 1934
Died May 24, 2012
Rest in Peace
My dad was a real character. In everyday conversation he might use a funny accent, a sound effect, or a silly face. In fact, he would probably do all three in quick succession, which made him a great story teller. Reading stories to us when we were little, he would do all the different voices. He had a repertoire of children’s songs and stories performed with imagination and gusto: There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly is a classic and so is The Three Billy Goats’ Gruff. And who could forget Little Rabbit Frou Frou?
My sister reminded me of his “not quite straight up variations on nursery school songs”. Two that come to mind are Put Your Finger Up Your Nose and My Bonnie Has Tuberculosis.
He felt called to the ministry as a young man but ended up deciding it wasn’t the right path for him. Later when he got into community theater we said that his urge to be a pastor had really just been an opportunity that gave him an audience every Sunday.
He had such a wonderful experience doing Fiddler on the Roof, the first show he was in, playing, what else, one of the papas, that he was hooked. He had a beard and my brother encouraged him to audition, saying he would be perfect for the part. He kept it ever since, except for the times when a part in a show called for the character to be clean-shaven. When he played Santa later he didn’t need a fake beard. He lost some of his hair and beard during chemo but it was growing back in.
Lines from dialogue, show tunes and jokes have woven their way into our family language. He was happy to introduce his kids or grandkids with a line from Fiddler saying “This is mine. And this is mine. And this is mine. And …this is not mine”. If anyone makes a negative comment about someone’s cooking, the response is likely to be “But good!” I think all my siblings could probably quote at least the opening line of his big monologue from Inherit the Wind: “I come to you on the wings of the Word!”
In addition to his acting he had other gifts. He was very creative; from the little snippets of country songs he crafted, to his distinctive handwriting. He wrote such funny notes when one of us was late to school or had a doctor’s appointment that the school secretary looked forward to them. He was an artist and enjoyed sculpting wood and rock – pieces that are a pleasure to touch. He sang in many different choirs throughout his life. I remember hearing how he would carefully arrange his dress pants between the mattress and box springs of beds every night to press out any wrinkles while on a choir tour as a teenager.
Papa was a great cook who loved feeding crowds and with a big family he had that opportunity often. From preparing hot breakfasts that we would find in the oven or on the stove before school to packing dinners into foil pie pans to drop off for a family member at rehearsal, my parents gave us the message that home-cooked meals were important. He made breakfast things like waffles or pancakes for Sunday suppers when we were kids and he enjoyed making different ethnic dishes from won ton and stir-fried rice to tacos and posole for special family dinners. Gradually he took over all the everyday cooking which continued until his treatment started.
Dad loved people. He was an extrovert who was energized by his interactions with those around him. He would start a conversation with anyone especially pretty women and even while he was battling cancer he would flirt and joke with nurses and technicians. He had a great sense of humor and loved telling and hearing jokes. Though I sing with the Threshold Choir he made it clear that he didn’t really care to have me sing for him. He did ask for it a few times, but what he really wanted was for me to make him laugh. I visited often and it was my goal to get a laugh out of him. I’m happy to say that I managed to most of the time. I think every laugh that is generated today is a tribute to him.
All of this is not to say he was always easy to get along with. He could be pretty sarcastic at times, his feelings were sometimes easily hurt and he could pout for days. He was extremely stubborn in some situations and I butted heads with him fairly often when I was younger, standing up for siblings that didn’t always appreciate it. I’m sure the fact that I’m so much like him played a part in this. In his last 24 hours he kept insisting he had to get up to use the bathroom but he wasn’t strong enough to do that. I had the feeling that he would rather die than pee in a diaper, and in the end that is exactly what he did.
Most importantly, Dad loved all of us, his family. As if six kids weren’t enough, we started naming some friends “Temporary Honorary Faws”. He was proud of his kids and grandkids and our accomplishments. We grew up knowing that family was all-important and we had parents who modeled a beautiful, loving relationship with each other for 57 years. He adored my mom and said so loudly and often. He would ask us “do you know I love this woman very much?” There was no question about this on any of our parts. It is heartbreaking to see a relationship like that be disrupted by death but I have no doubt that the love has not ended. I know Papa lives on in all our hearts.
As I’ve mentioned, 30 days of Creativity starts on June 1. The idea is to create something every day for 30 days. I am planning on participating because it is good therapy for me and I think it is a better way to honor my father than it would be if I canceled my plans. I am dedicating my efforts to my dad, David, a huge, creative influence on my life.
Thank you for your visit.