As a boy/man, so much of your life is defined by your father. As I read Adam Bellow's account of his famous father's death, I was struck by a sense of sadness and accompanying anger, which Adam Bellow does not seem to share. The issues of his blended family are instructive if not painful.
June 10, 2005
Missing: My Father
By ADAM BELLOW
MY father, Saul Bellow died in April. Today, June 10, would have been his 90th birthday.
Since his death I think about him constantly. Yet in a strange and disconcerting way, he is no more gone today than he was a few months ago, or at any other time in my life.
I am my father's second son; my parents divorced when I was 2 and I never lived with him again. He had three sons with his first three wives and, much later, a daughter with his fifth. Four only children, connected by a slender thread: a fond but highly attenuated bond with a frequently distracted, often absent, and much older father.
At the end of his life we began to gather to celebrate his few remaining major milestones. Had he lived, I know my brothers and I would have made the journey to Boston or Vermont to celebrate this day with him. Instead, we are going to spend the day reflecting, in our separate ways, on the difficulties of mourning a father who was never really there. More
JB here: I hope you see the picture. Saul Bellow fathered 4 children by 4 different women he was married to. [ One does wonder if he may have fathered illegitimate children also.] Saul was famous and he milked his fame, but ignored his children in the process.
You know what? He was a terrible father, in my humble opinion, but his son Adam refuses to concede that. I think I would have been enraged at Saul, had I been his son, if he had played the role of "hero to the elite" but "absentee father" to his flesh and blood. Saul Bellow lived for Saul Bellow, and the literary world and the academic world aided him and abetted him in his selfishness.
Please, do not make this wreck of a father your hero. He probably thought he was worth the hoi polloi's worship but he was actually shameful.
I wonder what Adam will write about him in the years to come. JB