The most influential person in my life was probably not even aware of the things he had taught me or of how much he had affected my existence. This person had always been in my life, from the day I first opened my eyes to the day that I saw him standing at the top of the stairs having kissed me goodbye for the very last time. My husband and I, having been refused permanent residency in the UK, - were immigrating to Canada and had visited this person to say "au revoir" ..
This Person - My Father - Tadeusz Blomberg (stage name: Olsza)
On that fateful day ...his last, foreboding words to my husband were .."take care of my daughter ..- I will never see you both again .." He was right - he died three months later - his immigration visa to Canada already stamped in his passport . Being the man he was - my Father refused to leave the UK - until he received his small pension from Poland.. he was too proud to come "empty handed" .. yet the excitement and anticipation of joining us in Canada proved to be too much for his ailing heart .. on May 31st he suffered a stroke and a heart attack and passed away the morning of June 1st, 1975.
It is always a somewhat delicate task to talk about one's father in a public forum, particularly about a famous father. Added to that are the facts that since I am not an artist myself, I can appreciate the professional accomplishments of my father only in their popularized version and that I never knew him as a younger man. Thus, I ask myself whether this essay is an undertaking not unlike that of a journalist trying to satisfy the curiosity of the public through pictures from the private life of a person, a form of journalism that always has been especially distasteful to my father bent on keeping a private realm for himself.
In my description I will primarily rely on my own subjective memory, rather than try to "pay homage" to my father's person in any comprehensive way, much less sketch a kind of biography. This seems to be fitting because much less than other people I have known, my father, despite being an accomplished actor, tended not to play different roles in different contexts. I am practically certain that he did not act essentially differently in his professional and private life.
By the way, this peculiarity in my father's understanding of the arts corresponded to a peculiar characteristic, which he exhibited outside the theater on the stage of life. He never made a conscious attempt in public, or private conversations to be personally brilliant, or play a role for his counterparts, to enchant or to seduce or to sweep them away. Paradoxically, this made for his unique ability to persuade others. Even in a personal conversation he never tried to convince you through anything but factual arguments and his own credibility. If he was occasionally thought of as having a "leadership" personality, it is likely attributable to this ability to project his person in theatrical fashion which may be a necessary prerequisite for it.
He was deeply supportive of me. Even in the times where I worried him his belief in me never wavered. I remember him looking out for me. At the same time, he was adamant about not helping me too much. He didn't want to spoil me, and he wanted to make sure I could achieve my goals on my own without even a hint of nepotism. When I look back, I have tremendous respect for how he did this.
He had a genuine interest in people. I hear many conversations today where someone asks about another person, but it's just a courtesy--they're not really interested in the answer. This was never my father. He was always curious to know what things were like for his fellow man. No matter where my Father would be, he could start up a conversation with anyone about anything and they'd get into really interesting discussions about the course of human events. The person could hail from anywhere in the world, and Dad would know a lot about what was happening there. There were only two subjects he wouldn't discuss, at least not in public .. politics and religion .. smart man!
It seems noteworthy to me that, in private, he would dispute political topics with the same kind of spontaneity and directness as he would questions from his own arena, while also sharing his generation's traditional skepticism towards politics in general. I remember him repeatedly stating his opinion that politics is "dirty business" and that he feared being entangled in murky and ultimately destructive activity when participating in the political life. In one of my first political conversations that I had with my father he explained to me that any new knowledge was suitable for constructive as well as destructive purposes. Politicians, however, were inclined, regrettably, to use the destructive potential first.
He had incredible patience. His fans would constantly come up to him to ask him questions, to ask for an autograph, or to ask to take a picture with him. Sometimes this would happen at an inopportune time but I don't remember him ever treating anyone disrespectfully. Even as a young man, he had such passion for the arts and he held on to that passion his entire life. This made him deeply sympathetic to anyone interested in learning. They were kindred spirits, and he wanted to share all the joys and wonders of the world of entertainment he'd come to understand.
In my view my father was a man who, contrary to the stereotype of an "incurable romantic", always relied primarily on his feelings or rather on his instinct. That in and of itself may not be a special trait of Blombergs. What distinguished him was the very early experience that he could rely on his instinct and his imagination, and that he would be successful to the degree that he was willing to follow his ideas and feelings. Thus his trust in his own, instinctive decision making was nearly unshakable.
Naturally, that was possible only because of the unique way in which he combined emotional motivation and rational control. In spite of his willingness to follow his feelings, he was certainly not a man who followed superficial moods or fashionable trends. On the contrary, I know few people who could remain as independent from emotional swings, as well as from superficial political, aesthetic or intellectual trends. What distinguished him was his willingness and his ability to differentiate between "deep seated" feelings and "mere moods" which he kept under tight wraps with an ironclad self- discipline. Like many people of his generation he regarded it a weakness when one chose to yield to moods or to talk about emotional problems.
From him I have learned that sometimes you have to put others needs ahead of your own, but not to the point they will begin to take advantage of you. His strength seemed to be unbreakable during hard times, and was extremely determined to accomplish anything he set his mind on. I hold great esteem for how he stood up for what he believed in, and would never back down. I have always admired his open mind, compassion, and sense of understanding. He had a great sense of humor, and always knew how to put a smile on my face. I miss him as much today as I did the day after I saw him last ..
My Father was a teacher, a guide, and a source of strength and support. He showed me the stars and taught me how to reach them.
To be continued ....
This is work in progress - so some of the paragraphs may appear disjointed and lacking coherence.. my aim is not to write a chronological account of my Father's life .. his short biography will accomplish that (Biography) .. I want to share some personal insights as to the Man my Father was ..