Sophie my 8 year old, when informed of my father’s passing asked why he had to go that day. I told her that our lives are like books and like any novel there has to be an ending, and that this ending, my father’s ending, was a good one.
It isn’t many of us whose lives are formed by international affairs. My father Harry's story started in a European migration brought on by an economic boom of the 1920s in America and the limitations of life for Jews in late 19th century Europe.
Then there were chapters which passed through the great depression in New York City and the tenacity it took for immigrants to survive those times. The upheaval of WW2 made its appearance and the fate of an infantry private on the battlefields of Europe tossed this life into its darkest moments. He was a soldier living on the line separating life from death. But good fortune was with him as he not only survived but found a way to recover which set the tone for the good fortune of the rest of his life.
It brought him to Europe again after the war. Bad fortune was turned to good and his experiences there involving college classes in London, motorcycle trips on the continent which would be remembered and recounted for the rest of his like.
He ultimately overcame his learning difficulties and earned a master's degree fulfilling his goal of becoming a teacher.
He was a free thinker looking for adventure who chose to ride the economic expansion of post war America into California.
He began his teaching career in California which lasted for 30 years in the same school district. He once recounted to me that the administrators were initially suspicious that this free thinker who loved to travel might leave. It didn't turn out that way.
Even the end of the cold war impacted his life as he was able to travel to Romania and see the birth place of his parents with my brother. It was a trip which meant a lot to him because it allowed him to see where his place was in history.
He would often say while sitting amidst his book collection “hold this book” now “he would say "you are holding a book that someone 150 years ago held” he would love the history of it. This week my fathers book ended with a very fitting last page as his wife of many years, both of his sons and many of his 10 grandchildren were able to see him in his final days.
Now we place the back cover on this completed novel, hold its binding and close it gently in our hands. Like all good books, we will keep it and open it from time to time, perhaps to read to ourselves or perhaps to our children and in that way, this story goes on.