September 23rd . . .

Amal Shah, Vienna, 1954

The old man is really old. 99 today. Good gracious! It’s been 33 years since he died. He was 66. I was 33 then. I am 66 now.

He and I are tethered. Not oppressively anymore though that was the case for decades.

He was a gifted man. Gifted in his determination to get things done. Gifted in connecting with people and making them feel at ease. Gifted at wading into a crowd and making himself at home.

He was a stupendously difficult and flawed man. My mouth runs dry at the ways he fell short.

His footprints on his career, his life’s work, his public experiences and rewards were enormous.

His effect on his children, his wife, and his closest in-laws was at times cyclonic and dark as the darkest night.

Today, I think I understand him more than anyone (other than my mother) else ever did. It wasn’t always so. It is now.

The years of comparing my life to his are over. I am today my parents’ child. The good, the bad and the ugly. It took a lifetime to sort all that out and it still is a journey. No longer a dusty road but a path in the woods with surprising clearings along the way.

I often think: What would he have done? And tell myself, Don’t do that! But more often, I think: Do exactly that — be brave, be bold, be loving, give more than you receive, talk to people.

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