Thursday, January 19, 2017

Go and Do Likewise

My father, portraying Galileo, in a short play he wrote
as part of the science curriculum for the
Baltimore School for the Arts
Four years ago today, my father died.  In actuality, his personality and physicality were lost to us for several years before that, to Parkinson’s with Lewy body dementia. 

I mourn my father today especially because he would know What To Do.  He would be able to face the future with integrity, with intelligence, with strategy, and with humor.  He had done so many times in his life. 

Throughout his life, he stood up for what is right.  He paid for that – at one point, because of his honesty, his army superiors punished him by sending him away from his stateside army post to an overseas post. In the 1960s he and my mother were in the thick of the civil rights movement. They both paid for that by being harassed by members of their own church.  My father paid for it by being forced out of his job.  As a result he found another job in another city.  

When we were moving (I was about 4 years old) my parents sold their house to the first African-American family to move to the neighborhood.  The neighbors offered him a bribe to not sell the house.  He refused.  The payment for that was that the neighbors put up confederate flags in their yards.  The neighborhood children also bullied his son, my older brother.  We moved to Baltimore and my parents moved to a neighborhood consisting of Orthodox Jews, African-Americans, and us. He was our neighborhood’s Shabbas goy.  Years later he worked on a process to safely destroy chemical weapons.   In the midst of all that, he worked a full-time job as a chemical engineer managing chemical plants.  He served his church and the broader church extensively.  He raised three children and was a loyal husband.

Throughout his life he remained intellectually curious and always wanting to learn more.  He would take a decisive stand on issues, but was not afraid to revise his opinion if he learned something to change his mind.

If he were alive and well today he would be joyful, argumentative, optimistic, funny, and active as much as is possible for any citizen.

Go and do likewise.


Angie said...

Loved reading this. You are so fortunate to have had such a wonderful father.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

What a man! What a legacy he has given you! I am sorry he is not alive and healthy here on Earth to guide us through these troubling times -- for you, and for all of us.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Ah, he sounds swell. I'm a bit jealous.