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On Family and How I Came to Understand that Location Matters

My Dad, Lawrence F. Lefevere, died on Saturday, July 9th and was laid to rest on Wednesday, July 13th.

He was young, just 64 years old.

The last 10 months (to say nothing of the last couple of years), have been hard.  My brother, sister and I carried principal responsibility for ensuring appropriate care for my Dad as he slid into full vascular dementia, the accumulation of brain damage in stroke patients, with the same needs as those with Alzheimer’s.

Accordingly, regular readers of this site have probably noticed that my writing output has dropped off precipitously this year; the result of the increased responsibility with my Dad’s care, which itself coincided with new and demanding responsibilities at work.  I prioritized appropriately, and in so doing my creativity and inveterate curiosity in wine slowed to, if not idle, at least first gear, as did my available time. 

This public acknowledgement of the private challenges I’ve been experiencing should not be mistaken for a eulogy to my father.  I’m not able to quantify in mere words what the loss of my Dad means to me.  In fact, I haven’t come to grips with his mortality yet, still dealing with an open wound and flowers hither and yon around the house. 

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No, instead, this is a brief rumination on wine and, more specifically, what I’ve recently come to understand about wine and the importance of place.

Over the last week or so more than a few people said to me, “Your Dad was ‘Old School’” and “They don’t make them like Larry anymore.” Or, “He was definitely his own man.”

They’re right.  He was “Old School” and damn proud of it thankyouverymuch; he was very much a throwback to a different era, a product of where he came from, the kind of guy that can’t be popped out of a cookie cutter mold and dropped into the suburbs.  My Dad grew up in a place that scarcely exists anymore – a Midwestern post-World War II middle-class clapboard neighborhood with both a tavern and a Catholic church within a stone’s throw of the front stoop.  He was raised by two working parents, one a laborer and the other clerical, neither of whom was educated beyond high school.  He was a Baby Boomer who went to Vietnam raised his family and worked 60 hour weeks for nearly my entire life.

My Dad smoked and drank and cursed; he was stubborn, principled, self-possessed, he spent little, saved a lot, paid tuition for all 16 years of his kids education (Catholic schools through high school and then college), was funny, loyal, loved Notre Dame football and was a complete and utter technophobe, never advancing beyond hunting and pecking on a typewriter.

And, to my knowledge, he never saw anything I’ve written about wine, much less understood my interest in something that didn’t come from Stroh’s brewery.  I am a “New World,” contemporary counterpoint to my Dad’s traditional ways.

Yet, my Dad has helped me come to a new appreciation about wine, at least wine that speaks of where it comes from—in sensibility and stridency.

Over the last several years, The Office of Champagne in the US has been on something of a long-term sustained warpath(Center for Wine Origins) in protecting the value of origins in naming i.e. Champagne comes from Champagne, France and nowhere else. Likewise, in this sensibility, Port wine can only come from Portugal. 

When it comes to this Champagne “Location Matters” campaign, I’ve always played both sides of the fence; never too with the Champagne and Port campaigns nor too against.  Kind of right down the middle, but leaning towards an arched eyebrow and the notion that there are more important things to do and spend money on then marketing and bleating about how, “Champagne only comes from Champagne, France.”  Especially when trying to undo 30 years of ingrained consumer habit.

As I celebrate my Dad’s life and fondly recall what a unique person he was, where he came from, what he lived through, how he was a distinct product of his time, place and environment—unmistakably unique in personality and ethos based on his roots and his life experiences, and ultimately buried just miles from where he was born, I’ve come to realize that location does matter.

I realize that he is the result of a confluence of circumstances that are unique to him, and not able to be duplicated.

As I’ve thought about my Dad’s life, as unique as he was, indeed, he couldn’t have come from any other place than South Bend, IN, just as I now see that dammit, yes, Champagne comes only from Champagne, France.

I get it.

My dad may have been an “Old School” guy that didn’t know anything about wine, but he posthumously taught me to appreciate the, “Old World,” as well.



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Posted in, Good Grape Daily: Pomace & Lees. Permalink | Comments (16) |


Comments

On 07/23, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

Lovely.

On 07/23, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

So sorry to hear about your father.  I had noticed the dropoff in your posts.  Thanks for finding the courage to share this, and helping me understand.  I hope you are taking good care of yourself.  I’ll be thinking about you despite the fact that I don’t know you personally.

On 07/24, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

A very lovely article that made me think - not about wine - but about my own father.  Thank you.

On 07/24, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

I echo what Janet said.

On 07/25, Thomas Pellechia wrote:

Jeff,

The way you placed your dad alongside the meaning of the identity of location and connection is truly beautiful.

On 07/25, John Kelly wrote:

Jeff - Condolences. Your dad clearly did much good in his life.

On 07/25, Chris Jones wrote:

A fitting tribute to a fine father.

On 07/25, Joe wrote:

Jeff,

So sorry to hear this.  Wish I had known when I saw you in-person, but I understand the desire for some privacy in these matters.

Dad sounds like an original.  Whether he appreciated wine or not, I’m sure he loved and appreciated you; showing it in his own way- perhaps over a can of America’s fire-brewed beer.

A very fitting and touching tribute.  Again, so sorry for your loss.

On 07/25, David Honig wrote:

Jeff,

Well done. Not a eulogy, but what you’re ready for, and it makes a great point and starts to touch on what you eventually need to say, and does it seemlessly.

On 07/25, Megan wrote:

Jeff, I’m so sorry for your loss.

On 07/26, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

well written.  i’m sorry to hear about your faher.

On 08/09, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

So sorry to hear about your father.  It is wonderful that you have this platform, the blog, to be able to write about him and to share your memories.

On 08/18, military t shirts wrote:

So sad to hear about your dad.. Our dads will always be old school when it comes to us children. But they will always find a way to get along with us.

On 10/31, florist nj wrote:

My Dad grew up in a place that scarcely exists anymore – a Midwestern post-World War II middle-class clapboard neighborhood with both a tavern and a Catholic church within a stone’s throw of the front stoop.

On 04/26, TN Pas Cher wrote:

p in a place that scarcely exists anymore – a Midwestern post-World War II middle-class clapboard

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