The man on the left is my late father, John Kransberg, seated under the Brooklyn Bridge with my Uncle Harry. I found out about my father's death as abruptly as I found out about my parents' divorce.
A year ago, my one remaining sister Susan, sent Dad a birthday card. It was returned with the word "deceased" scribbled on the envelope. No apologies, sentiments, or pomp and circumstance; John Kransberg was no more.
Until my dad walked away in 1976, he was subjected to endless violin practice sessions, lessons, rehearsals, music camps, student recitals, and confrontations with irate violin teachers, who had suddenly found themselves dumped and replaced by more "famous pedagogues" thanks to my mother.
I have to give my father credit—he was practically tone deaf. Dad tried to like the stuff I played. Except for the opening bars of Kol Nidrei, my father barely recognized a tune. I think Bartok's music grated his nerves like a dentist's drill.
When my mother would compare her little angel (me) to violin prodigies in the early 70's: Lilit Gampel, Dylana Jenson, Stephanie Chase, and Lynn Chang, he'd roll his eyes, fumble into his front pocket for a cigarette, light up, take a long inhale, and say:
Christsakes Frances, can't you let her be a normal kid for a change?
I was a late child—eleven years younger than my youngest sister, Karen. All my sisters were assigned music lessons at the insistence of my mother: Judy, the eldest, tickled the piano keys, Susan, the middle child, engaged in a protracted battle with the violin, and cherubic Karen (if only she had practiced) might have polished Old Black Joe to perfection. I guess I was my mother's last hope.
Mom, Dad, Judy and Karen: are you happy now?