Romance in Shanghai

My handsome Dad!

Dad. He meant the world to me.  This photograph was taken in Shanghai when he was courting my beautiful Mom.  Happy Fathers Day to all the Dads!  

It isn’t often you come across a man like Dusty.  He was full of fire and fury, and love and laughter.  A true romantic at heart who loved adventure and traveling around the world. Perhaps most of all he loved my mother, next to his first love, the ocean.  His big warm heart would swell with laughter that was always contagious, filling the room. He had a zest for life and living it to the fullest, every day.  His heart was also tender and compassionate, always lending a helping hand to anyone who needed it.  

He had movie star good looks, as did Mom.  They were a perfect match for each other! Coming from different worlds in Europe. . . France, Hungary, Germany, and now meeting in Shanghai during the war. Their eyes locked from across a crowded room and that was the beginning of a new world for both of them. They fell in Love and after many travels and departures from the port of Shanghai, they finally married at sea on my father’s ship. Their love was stronger than any desire to protect their past identities, countries of origin and the many challenges that met them in Shanghai.

Dad loved to dance and listen to romantic music, especially Frank Sinatra. He would schmooze my mom onto a dance floor every time with his charm and good looks. She simply could not resist him. And she was lucky. . . her mother also adored him and gave him her approval to marry her daughter. In the wink of an eye and a chance meeting in a place far across the world from where they both began, love took root and they finally left Shanghai when the war ended, as a newly married couple. New York City was the next stop. And the one after that was the sunny beaches of Florida.  

My father came from a large family and it must have been synchronicity that brought them all together in Florida. New husbands and wives. Babies and children. And a life that was not always easy to find their way, and always full of challenges, hopes and dreams, but somehow, through the thick and thin of it they all gathered together as a family.

Miami Beach became their new home, when it was still pristine and natural. Clean beautiful oceans. Quiet. Privacy. No hotels or high-rises. No condos. Just beautiful pristine beaches and islands that connected to the mainland by causeways and bridges. It was an ideal environement for my dad who loved the ocean. But all of this changed when Frank Sinatra came to Miami Beach with his new wife, Ava Gardner, and nestled into a small hotel on the beach. The press brought curiosity to these lovely sandy beaches, and not long after, it attracted developers who ruined the natural beauty of these beach towns. Along with them came the New Yorkers and droves of people from the Northeast. Everything began to change from that moment on.

It’s extraordinary to me that so many of our family members found a way to create a new life in the same place.  For me in many ways it was a ‘heaven on earth’ growing up there. There was not a day I was not in the ocean. . . boating, fishing, sailing, swimming, surfing, and water sports were my daily inspiration. And so many travels to the Bahamas and the Caribbean.  I can’t thank Dad enough for this.  It will stay with me the rest of my life. 

Thank God for his passion. Thank God for his vision. Thank God for his romantic heart and soul. Thank God for his love and laughter.  The last time I saw my father was on New Year’s Eve many years ago.  He and Mom came to visit me during the Christmas holidays when I lived in Malibu.  We had a small family dinner at a charming restaurant nearby on the ocean, and it was one of those special nights when Dad’s laughter filled the room.  

He witnessed Mom taking a photograph from a small flash camera that was backwards and up-side-down in her small hands…thus not capturing our family, but her dress.  He burst out laughing, and I will never forget how contagious his sweet laughter was. It filled the whole room and before we knew it, the story left our table and went on to the next, and the next. We all had tears in our eyes from laughing so hard! (One of those moments when you had to be there to ‘feel’ the laughter and joy.)

Finally the dinner arrived as did the celebratory New Year’s Eve music, dance and champagne. And once again I watched Mom and Dad dance together for the last and final time.  It was there, at the end of these special moments and wonderful evening together that I said my final goodbye to my father. I am so grateful it was such a happy moment in our lives together, as a family celebrating the New Year.  None of us could have dreamed or imagined he would be gone eleven months later. 

Life is so sweet!  Thank you Dad!  Thank you for all your Love! And for all the many years we shared together.  You were one of the greatest Blessings in my Life! I Love You!

And I do know that our love is eternal.  You live right here inside my heart, always and forever. XOXO



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