|Walter Handelman (1931-2009) in the Navy circa 1954|
But this year feels like something more is in order.
I realized it had to do with an email he sent me and my brothers after election night 2008 - that I wound up quoting in his eulogy not two months later. He died only 12 days after Obama's inauguration.
Dad was a lifelong Republican - but a bygone species of moderate sometimes referred to as "Jacob Javits Republicans" - who last voted for a GOP Presidential Candidate in 1968.
All my life, Dad hadn't been that communicative about his emotions. My mom (a lifelong Democrat, whose dad was a labor lawyer) was the, shall we say, expressive and dominating partner . The two of them were inseparable - literally. At some point we surmised they had never spent more than a few consecutive days apart their entire 49 years of marriage.
She died suddenly at 70, in October 2007, of an aneurysm, while swimming. (He had found her and had jumped in to the pool fully clothed trying to rescue her, but she'd died instantly.)
After all those nights in a couple, in his solitude he uncorked a new (or rather, hidden from me and my brothers) frankness that gave us a new relationship with him.
He would often go to Mets games solo, leaving her seat empty rather than trying to replace her companionship. and confided to us that at bedtime he often "spoke" to her.
Here's the email he sent after Obama's election.
NOVEMBER 5 2008
Obama's win was an historical event in our country's history. It is hard to overstate its meaning, the full extent of which will not be known, probably, in my lifetime.
I feel proud of our country, in a way that I have not fully felt for many years. Hope is what has gotten us through one crisis after another during the 20th century, and is what we can cling to into the 21st.
And in Obama I think we have a president who has the intellectual capacity to seize the opportunities that make hope a reality As someone who served in the armed forces, and who has made the ideals of Boy Scouting a central part of his lifetime, I am happy to see a person in the White House who shares my belief that the leadership of our country on the world scene, as we had during World War II, is the most important gift we can make to humankind.
I talked to Mom about this at length, aloud, last night, and felt her with me as I dropped off to a deep and dreamless sleep.
|getting Eagle Scout award|
I imagine it might be something like how my folks in their seats behind first base at Shea Stadium reacted when the Mets - inevitably -- imploded. Let's just say, there was a lot of...expressed emotion.
As they headed to the parking lot, however, they did not swear off the Mets or baseball or the traffic jam forever. They knew the season was 162 games long. And if the Mets didn't make it to the playoffs, there was always next year.
I'm trying to keep that in mind.