The Leader of the Band
by Ashley Gould
If ever I wanted to do something with perfection, it is sharing these words with you today to honor my father, Harvey Lawrence Gould.
My sisters have already talked about many things that defined our father-his wit, the seriousness with which he took his role as a parent, his love of food, his love for Karen and how he lived with his disease rather than letting his disease run his life.
As the daughter who followed him into the practice of law,
I wanted to share a few words about Harvey the litigator. Dad loved his profession and loved talking about it. In sharing memories about him with Rabbi Weiner a few days ago, my husband, Carlos reflected that when my Dad engaged in a conversation about his work it was never drudgery; it was, instead, an animated recitation. He made even mundane facts interesting because he found them interesting. I shared three special years with Dad and Karen at 8th Avenue during law school. Karen would prepare amazing meals in the evenings and Dad and I would discuss what I had learned that day. It didn’t matter if the subject was tort law, criminal procedure or constitutional law. My father was invariably interested in discussing the case law and re-living his own law school experience. Dad was also a consummate orator. Karen notes he had what the Irish call, “the gift of gab”. Whatever you call it, Dad loved to talk, whether around the kitchen table or in the courtroom. He took his time when he talked, measuring out words like pieces of candy being given to a small child, delivering his facts, arguments or summary with perfect volume, head tilt, shoulder shrug and hand motion. His confidence was palpable but never off-putting.
Everything I know of my father that made him such a good lawyer also made him a great man. I believe this greatness came from his fundamental ability to understand human beings. I have received countless messages over the last few days from people who met my father only a few times but remembered him vividly as a strong, warm and witty man with a memorable voice. When Dad was talking to you, you always had his full attention and genuine interest. If you reflect upon how many people you can say this about I think you will find it to be a small list.
The other fundamental quality that set my father apart was his ability to love. I think of Grandpa Jack, my father’s father, when I think of this love. I remember Grandpa Jack’s raspy voice and soft hand and how he kissed my father on the lips holding the sides of his head, as if saying, “My son, I love you so much!” This is an exact gesture I saw my father repeat throughout my life. Carlos and I also kiss our boys, Mateo and Alex, all the time. This is a trait you don’t generally discuss when you are planning to get married, but one I am extremely grateful that Carlos and I share.
Dad always kissed us, always told us how much he loved us-and the funny thing is that he never had to because we knew. As a child I knew by the Mini Bake Oven he got me, driving regularly to Japantown to buy the special mixes, spending an hour baking a 2 by 2 inch cake that we would cut into four pieces so Dad, Lisa, Jennifer and I could each have a bite. I knew by the way he let me eat my carnation hot cocoa powdered out of the paper packet because I could never get it to the right temperature as liquid hot chocolate at our Sunday morning breakfasts. I knew by the way he sang to me and wrote songs for me and I knew by his interest in getting to know my close friends and his willingness to let me make my own mistakes. I knew by the pride in his eyes when he looked at me. My father didn’t need to tell me how much he loved me, but I’m glad he always did. And I’m equally glad I always told him how much I loved him.
You have all been touched by my father in some way, whether as a trusted lawyer, friend, brother, brother-in-law, uncle, husband or through one of us…however you knew him, you likely knew of his love of music. It started young and continued throughout Dad’s life. He wrote and played songs at all our major life events, including most poignantly his and Karen’s wedding. I remember as a child watching Solid Gold with Dad and my older sisters with rapt attention. Dad would count the many seconds Laura Branigan could hold her last “Solitaire” and predicted that Prince would be a star after his performance of Little Red Corvette sending the stand-up microphone to the ground and picking it back up with his foot. When Lisa, Jennifer and I would spend weekends with Dad, he would get out the guitar, throw on a duraflame log and give us marshmallows to roast on wire hangers as he would start strumming. I would slip through the opening on his brown leather and stainless steel bauhaus chairs as he started to play and we would listen and sing along to Peter, Paul & Mary’s Stewball, That’s What You Get For Lovin’ Me, Leavin’ on a Jetplane and Puff the Magic Dragon; the Animals’ House of the Rising Sun; and Harry Chapin’s Cats in the Cradle…music was not just a part of his life, music is part of our father’s soul and he helped to make it a part of our souls too.
Our family agreed that today would be incomplete without music. Mike Pacelli honored Dad and gave some comfort to Karen with his rendition of Danny Boy and we hope you heard some of our father’s own music as you came in. I heard Dan Fogelberg’s Leader of the Band a few weeks ago while driving in the car and cried as I heard him singing. Lisa, Jennifer and I agreed singing this song would be a great tribute to our father-whose life added meaning to the lives of countless people and perhaps most significantly to ours and to Karen’s.
Leader of the Band
…I thank you for the music and your stories of the road
I thank you for the freedom when it came my time to go
I thank you for the kindness and the times when you got tough
And papa, I don’t think I said I love you near enough
The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul
My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man
I’m just a living legacy to the leader of the band
I am a living legacy to the leader of the band.
Dan Fogelberg, © EMI Music Publishing
Our younger sister, Elana, designed the beautiful programs you are holding and her husband, and our brother-in-law, Dan, learned Leader of the Band in the span of the last few days to accompany us on guitar, a gift that Dad would have appreciated as the true act of love that it is. We will spend the rest of our lives trying to emulate our father’s greatness of spirit and we sing this song with our deep love for him and our unending sadness that he has left us. May G-d hold you, Dad, in the palm of his hand.