Dad, I thought laughter would make you love me

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To: Dad

From: Jay Mandyam

Charity: David Lynch Foundation

Sponsor: HairStyleGlam App

Dear Dad,

There is a lot about you I do not know. You were secretive about many aspects of your life. We never talked about your hopes or your dreams. I am not sure what your life entailed before you had a family. And for a long time, Dad, I truly didn’t know if you loved me.

Showing emotion was not your strong point. An immigrant from India and a professor of electrical engineering, you were serious and focused all the time, with only one exception.

Sitcoms.

Jay with his father as a young child.

You loved watching sitcoms. That was the only time I saw you let loose and enjoy yourself.

You tried to predict the next joke and usually, you got it right.

Then, you would raise your hand and say, “I should have been a scriptwriter.”

Mom would respond, “Well, if you were, we’d have more money.”

Subconsciously, I got it in my head that if I could be on a sitcom, I could make you laugh. If I could make you laugh, I thought you would definitely love me.

In eighth grade, I told you that one day I would be a comedian. I think you thought it was a phase, but you still supported me. During school, I would write jokes and when you picked me up from the bus stop I would test them on you. You would tell me why the joke worked or did not work.

If I could make you laugh, I thought you would definitely love me.

In high school, we started to fight a lot. I resented you for not allowing me to go to the school my friends attended, simply because you said you wanted me to go closer to our house.

I was angry at you and became isolated and anti-social, often staying in my room reading books about standup comedy. However, even though I was upset and rebellious, you still took me to comedy shows and encouraged me. During my freshman year of college, we went to see a local Indian comedian and you suggested I ask him questions about how to get my career started.

Jay’s father often worried about Jay’s financial stability.

However, even though you encouraged my interest in comedy when I graduated from college and pursued it, it became another point of contention in our relationship. I lost jobs. I quit jobs. You were frustrated that I wasn’t making a steady income. You wanted me to be financially stable but I wanted to do whatever it took to live my dream.

After a breakup with a girlfriend, I became unhappy and depressed. I never told you this Dad, but I had a drinking problem. After my third DUI, I stopped abusing alcohol and began to see a therapist. That’s when I began to appreciate you more. She helped me realize that even though you didn’t show a lot of emotion or affection, you always tried to be a good dad. You showed up to every basketball game. Every band recital, you were there. And even though you were irked by the financial instability of my career, you found great joy in all the access I had to celebrities.

My therapist suggested I write you a letter apologizing for the past and showing gratitude for all the effort you put into being my father. Just as the letter arrived, so did the news. That same week you were diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. Doctors told us you had one year to live.

When I came home to see you, we would sit on the couch and watch comedies together. And while our relationship was improving, you remained worried about my future.

Jay has traveled the country doing standup comedy.

Toward the end of your life, I came home to help you move. The TV got stuck on a marathon of The Hughleys, starring comedian D.L. Hughley. I couldn’t change the channel, so I watched all night long. The very next night I was at a restaurant in Dallas and there he was, D.L. Hughley. I didn’t expect to see him in Dallas. If the TV hadn’t gotten stuck on him the night before, I probably wouldn’t have even recognized him.

I approached him and he invited me to his improv show the next night. Exhausted and drained from taking care of you, I almost didn’t go because it was an hour from your house. But something inside of me pushed me. That night, D.L. put me on stage. I did well and he invited me back the next day. That was the day the doctor told us that the end was near for you.

I went to the show to meet D.L. late that night. He asked how you were doing and I told him you were not doing well.

He told me to call him when I returned to Los Angeles.

He said, “When you get back to Los Angeles, I will put you to work.”

I told you what D.L. said and two days later you passed away.

It’s almost like you were holding on to make sure I was OK, to make sure I could take care of myself.

I want you to know D.L. kept his promise and he has kept me consistently working as a comedian and writer since you died nearly two years ago. Last year, I got my first television writing job, working on a Netflix show and this year I got my first producer credit, working on D.L.’s talk show.

Jay says D.L. Hughley has provided him with opportunities, allowing him to make a living in comedy.

While I am not wealthy, you would be happy to know I have had enough money to live off of my work in comedy as opposed to supplementing my income with a day job.

Dad, I am a working comedian just like I planned and I have come to realize you were my greatest influence.

But I want you to know that I no longer do comedy because I don’t know if you love me, I am passionate about comedy because it is now my way of saying, I love you, too.

I hope there are Seinfeld reruns in heaven,

Jay

Written with Lauren Brill

About the author:

Jay Mandyam is a Los Angeles-based comedian and writer. He is a producer on The D.L. Hughley Show and appeared on Modern Family.

About the sponsor and the charity:

The David Lynch Foundation promotes Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace. It also provides opportunities for children who want to learn to meditate.  HairstyleGlam App is donating $50 to The David Lynch Foundation in honor of the first 50 shares of Jay’s letter.

The Unsealed will match the donation if we get 100 new subscribers and 100 new Facebook followers by 11/9/19.

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I have learned over my Fifty-Eight years of life, and more specifically over the last 10 that FDR's words about fearing only fear itself ring true; to me, they do, anyway. And, at the same time, how the words of the 23rd Psalm comfort me and my abundant faith in G-d allows me to fear only fear, knowing full well that He is always with me. Growing up in a Non-Orthodox, yet Observant Jewish family nicely brings both together and not only makes me feel more protected but commands me to believe so. You see, I have lived a different kind of life, as we all have to some degree, but mine changes daily. Not that I am ANY BETTER than anyone else, in fact, probably less so... I stray from my stories often. I shouldn't, but since my Stroke in 2012, I have somehow developed some sort of ADD, so please bear with me, the end will justify the means and I will *try* to stick with my story; for you, my readers. I moved my family of the ex-wife and four children Cross-Country in 2002 to be closer to my dad who was turning 75 that year, and while I could not afford both financially as well as mentally to move back to Southern California (where he and my mother lived), I chose the Midbar (Hebrew for Desert) of Arizona. Within just a few short weeks of moving here, I woke up one day with some of the most severe abdominal pain I had ever experienced. I found a local doctor and made an appointment to see him that day. I arrived at the appointment and was ushered into an examination room by their PA (Physician's Assistant), who is supposed to be the same as a Doctor, but not really (?). I was examined and Prescriptions for a Pain Medication and an Antibiotic. They continued to treat me in a like manner for almost six months when I ended up in an Emergency Room, where a CT Scan was performed and Colonoscopy was scheduled. 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I then proceeded to give him a list of anesthetic agents that I knew to be safe. He tapped me on the knee and said: Okay, Smart guy, put yourself to sleep and quickly left the room. I awoke from the anesthesia on the following Wednesday evening. In addition to the NINE small incisions from various attempts to perform the procedure of removing 18" of my diseased colon through a scope, I also had one 6" cut in my belly that began around my navel and continued to just above my groin. I also began experiencing severe shortness of breath. The staples were ripped out of my skin by the Butcher Surgeon two weeks later, but my breathing difficulties continued. After being examined by one doctor after another, I finally decided to be examined by The Mayo Clinic. Over a ten-day to 2 week period, I was examined by multiple physicians, underwent numerous tests and procedures and was finally ready for my Report Appointment. I would learn the results of all of the tests and procedures and hopefully have a clear diagnosis and prognosis. The verdict had come in. Diagnosis: Terminal COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Causation: Bacterial Pneumonia due to Malignant Hyperthermia caused by induction of Detrimental Anesthesia Prognosis: 5% chance of Five-Year Survival I then took my report to a highly regarded Pulmonologist for Follow-Up Care, but not before enrolling in Rabbinical School in New York City. I had, (since age ten) always wanted to be a Rabbi. It was now or never. On the advice of the Pulmonologist, I began taking Prednisone (a Steroid) that would open up my Bronchioles and make it easier to breathe. The normal dosage for a man who is 5'9" and weighs 150 pounds (before I got sick, I weighed 174 pounds, all muscle, by the way) is <100mg per day. My STARTING dose was 100mg THREE TIMES a DAY. the dosage was increased every few months for the following THREE YEARS, when, on Sunday, September 9, 2007, at the weight of 340 Pounds (the Steroids had been increased to 250mg Four Times a day), I collapsed and at Mayo Hospital, was intubated where my organs began failing. Two nights later, on the First Night of Rosh haShana, the Jewish New Year, and while being mechanically ventilated, I went into Full Blown Total System Failure, and suffered a Cardiac Arrest for 14 minutes, followed by a Coma of several weeks duration. During my Coma, I felt as if I was in a box. The box had four dirt walls and smelled like the Morning Dew. In the upper right corner of the box sat a red square with a white X inside of it. "If only I could click on that X, I might stop this program", I thought to myself, but I could not move; I could not stand; could not reach, and could not scream for help. I lay in this place crying out in fear for what seemed like days and weeks and months. Suddenly, my cries were replaced by Psalms. I was reciting Psalms, some of which I had never even read before! And the Psalms turned into Prayers; The Kol Nidre, chanted at the beginning of our Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur; every other prayer recited on this Holy of all Holy Days; the Prayers for the Sukkot Holidays that follow the next week and the Readings for every single Torah Portion of the year. I somehow knew them all. By heart. Without hesitation of memory and obviously without any text to look at. I kept reading and chanting day and night; night and day and resting in between. Really resting. Sleeping... until one day, I opened up my eyes to see my beautiful son Zac sitting at my side on my bed. Covering the holes in my throat and on the side of my neck, I managed to spit out "C'était le rêve de dix minutes le plus étrange que j'aie jamais eu"! I told my son that was the weirdest ten-minute dream that I have ever had in FRENCH, my first language and native tongue. He then told me that it had been over two months, and I was in a Hospice Facility. The night before, I had begun to breathe on my own a minute or so after being disconnected from the machines that had sustained my organs since September. A few days later I was wheeled to an ambulance outside to be transported to the truly amazing HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital in Scottsdale. The sun kissed my face as I felt like I was pulled up into a body of love. It spoke. In Hebrew: Don't worry, it said. "You and I are going to be okay". I spent the next six weeks learning to do things like eating and holding a pencil; how to shower and dress. I learned how to return to life. Six weeks after leaving HealthSouth, my dad died. In July 2018, my mom joined him. I have had many trials and tribulations over these last twelve years. A Stroke in 2012 took my ability to project my voice loudly; I've been hospitalized many times and know how very precious time is. I do not live for today, rather, I live for tomorrow. I do everything I can do today to help others, and pray that I am again awakened tomorrow to do more good. And if so, great! And if not; if G-d decides to take me tonight, I will hang out with my parents and loved ones forever. I win either way. President Roosevelt was right to believe in only fearing fear. Psalm 23 is even more so, as Faith follows all of us.

Funny my mom passed in 1991 as a 13 year old it was hard but she was much more then beauty. She was a fighter from the beginning and I will never be able to explain her impact. It shows you came from a strong famiy and I'm glad you had both a mom and dad because a lot of people don't. I pray your truth can make a difference

This is trying to scare us with more misinformation then actual information but thank you for giving us your reality. I like it a lot.and people just wash your hand like you should be doing anyway 😂

Great discussion, as well as some interesting numbers which I'm not sure are meant to calm us, or install even more fear. I have many of your same concerns. Just yesterday I scheduled a work trip to Miami for late next week, but am unsure if it will happen or not. And while i say or act like i'm not concerned, sub-consciously, i am quite sure it is weighing on my mind each time i cough, or sneeze, or feel "a little warm", or if someone around me does. One of the biggest fears i have is that with all of the media coverage and the additional testing becoming available, the numbers are sure to skyrocket, and this is going to really set some people off. Our country is going to go absolutely bonkers . We are all guilty of taking limited amounts of information and either talking about it like an expert, or completely overreacting. Here's hoping that the number stat to level out, and then drop. Lets hope that the American people can follow simple suggestions. Lets hope that countries from around the world can work together to come up with a viable plan to slow this train down. And last but not least, lets hope our politicians can come together to provide our country guidance as we all try to get through this. Lets hope they can forget about the presidential race for just a minute to remember what their job really is; to serve the American people. And now is their time to really step up and lead by example.

Lauren, like you I have to balance my fear and confusion. I work directly with the public and I have an immune system that is partially suppressed as a by product of treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis. I fear for my Father the most as his body is much weaker than even mine. I visited the Cleveland Museum of Art on Sunday just to learn three people were positively diagnosed on Monday in Cuyahoga county. You aren't alone in that fear. I think that we must turn to hope to keep us in this trying time. We have to...

Terry, As a man who has lived and breathed baseball, your letter was an absolute joy for me to read. What young boy wouldn't want to be in the clubhouse with his Dad? During your time as manager I've been to quite a few games in Cleveland. None though were as special as July 12th 2014. That was the day I celebrated my 30th birthday. Though the day centered around my birthday it saw me doing something for someone else. It was the day I took my Father to the very first professional sports game in his 59 years of life at the time. It was so touching the certificate that he got from the wonderful folks at Guest Services. And although the home team lost to the White Sox that day, it will always remain one of the best days in my heart. Letters like yours only serve to renew my love for the game of baseball. Thanks for sharing it with the little boy still inside of me wanting to throw that 0-2 curveball to the best hitter in the league.

[…] enough, in the email was your letter to your late father, former NBA basketball star Anthony Mason, talking about your struggles after his death. You wrote […]

Sweet Lauren, I agree completely with the promise that Brian asked you to make. Frankly, it is the only way that I know to love; totally, completely, wholly and unconditionally. You deserve nothing less, nor does your future love.

Wow. What a truly moving and powerful story. We often take for granted the small gifts we give each other just by being present. I'm sad for the heartache. I'm glad you stayed and became. Who knows what little girl or boy will be attributing their life's purpose to some kindness you shared. Peace and Sunshine

You’re welcome Lauren looking forward to all the future stories :)

Thank you Tony. I appreciate all your support.

Thank you Tony. I appreciate all your support.

I’m sorry to hear about Brian but he was right you are too beautiful to not receive roses Lauren:)

[…] Here is why you need to stop being nice and start being loud […]

Thanks for this! So what movie set did you get on?

So nice Roger <3

Pat, Your letter touched me in a very profound way. It left me in tears in the middle of my work day. It made me want to share something with you. On a July morning in 2007 a police officer answered a 911 call I had made when my Mother went into cardiac arrest. Between that officer, my best friend and the fire fighters who showed up minutes later they were able to restart her heart, however at the hospital she passed away an hour later. At the end of his shift that officer stopped by my home to check on the situation and cried when I told him the unfortunate news I received only 4 hours prior. He tried to apologize to me. I looked at the anguish in his eyes and asked him directly what for? He described the ways he felt sorry. What I want to leave you with was my reply to him. I told him he had nothing to be sorry for because he answered the call in what was the darkest moment in my life. I told him that he was a hero regardless because it takes a special person to answer calls like that. You are a hero to people Pat. No one can ever take that away from you. I understand the process you're going through as I've been there myself and like you I still struggle with it when no one is looking. You aren't alone in this. I hope your healing process continues on and you can regain the happiness in this beautiful life. You'll always be a hero to those people, because you were there when the call came Best wishes Roger Chamberlain

Ruth, your letter moved me to tears. Once upon a time I was very closed off about the LGBT community but over a course of several years, I turned my fear into understanding and I actively stand with the community for their equal rights because it is the right thing to do.