My Old Man

My old man passed on from this world to another world today. Today is really only meaningful in this world. My old man doesn’t need a lot of things like this or that or today or whatever anymore.

If you know me and / or my old man, then you will know what this is about. Otherwise, it might not make a whole lot of sense to you — and that’s perfectly OK.

I plan to edit this until it’s done, then I will press publish. I’m inviting some of my and my father’s “inner circle” to also contribute something to what we’re writing about. Each of us will decide to say as little or as much as they want. I myself will have the final word, but I plan to be respectful of everyone involved.

I guess now someone will have to write something.

[ … ]

Those dots mean I took a break from writing. Not that I took a break in general — breaks, right now, are sort of out of the question for me. I had been visiting my old man for a little over a week — there were very clear signs on the horizon. At any rate, I’m still here, as is another sibling, and more siblings stop by. We talk, we chat, we do the stuff that siblings do. We recover — or at least try to.

Nothing about this was unexpected. Yet it was unexperienced. Now we are becoming experienced (more or less).

This post is not about me or us or really much of anything to do with this world (in the here & now). I need to remember that, try to focus on it, figure out what there is to say that might be meaningful to whoever (even if whoever turns out to be little or nothing more than simply little ole me).

[ … ]

Oh, me. That’s a song. Kurt Cobain sang it w/ Nirvana, but it was composed by the Meat Puppets (I think — they also helped out during the Unplugged concert). I’ve been listening to it a lot for several years already, but the text has really hit home hard in the past several days.

My old man’s other (aka “better”) half was a big part of his life — but not the only part. Everyone’s reason to exist is up to at least two other people … and they are obviously a very important part of anyone’s life. This is nothing in particular, this is everything in general.

[ … ]

He’s gone now, he took some of our love with him, will share it with my mama, we will see sometime … whenever we cross that bridge.

private email

[…] […] […] <= all of those dots mean a LOT of time has passed

My father was first and foremost a scientist, secondly a mathematician (in particular, of the “statistics” / “statistical” / “applied” kind), thirdly an economist (more exactly econometrics) and somewhat of an armchair linguist. He was also many things more, including a (-n armchair) philosopher. He was very engaged in pretty much everything he did. Most of his life was in what psychologists sometimes refer to as a “flow” state.

I now want to focus on one particular thing about his life which right now appears ironic to me. It has to do with language. My father would probably never have thought to refer to himself as a linguist — that is much more my own interpretation of what these words mean, refer to, etc. … and it is also a point in which I feel I have a rather strong connection to him (or rather: to who he was, in my eyes). In my opinion, many of his above interests (science, logic, mathematics, etc.) can be interpretaed as languages, and quite obviously his avowed preferred language was quantitive.

In later years, I would often strike up conversations about the distinction between quantitative and qualitative statistics, and I think he appreciated my thoughts and ideas concerning these subjects. He would be in a sort of “wonder” and / or “amazement” state about my feelings and insights — or perhaps he simply politely remained quiet. 😉

My father was a native speaker of 2 languages: German and English. He was born in Argentina, and perhaps he also had an “ear” for Spanish — but certainly not anything like any substantial amount of proficiency. Nonetheless, his fluency in English was unparalleled (as far as I know) and his abiliy to speak German as a native speaker would in at least one way extend beyond “true native” speakers: he could perform German dialects so excellently, that few Germans could imitate speakers of so many different dialects as well as he could.

Now let me get to that ironic point I wanted to mention in particular.

It occurred to me today that of my father’s ability to speak two languages so fluently, he himself appeared to value his ability to speak German more — well, that didn’t occur to me just today … but what did occur me is that his own evaluation was so different than the world’s evaluation (i.e., valuing in the sense of “prizing” / “prize” / “prized”).

My father was very successful in many regards — but in one context his own success was / seems to have been prized by the world more than in another: namely: The United States of America versus Germany (my father may have viewed this differently than I am describing it now). It seems undeniable to me that the quanitative evaluation of his “linguistic” abilities was quantitatively far higher in the USA than in almost any other country. Of course this correlation does not actually prove a causal relationship. At this point, it is little more than an “armchair observation”. 😉

[…]

I want to close now with another (or a few other) observation(s) from my father’s last weeks and months. A little while back, I wrote an article titled “In What We Trust“. At the beginning of that article, I mention how little I trust humans in general. I disussed the article with my father, and one of his aides helped by reading it aloud to him while he could also read along on the screen (this was during a telephone conversation). As my father’s aide read those words, my father very compassionately moaned regarding my own predicament (in German you would say he was audibly “betroffen” and “mitgenommen”). I had mentioned this issue occasionally before, but this was a markedly different reaction — my father beyond the shadow of a doubt voiced compassion — rather than remaining dispassionately “balanced”. Such passion and strong expression of feeling (and in particular expressing feelings of solidarity) were unsusual for my father — it actually shocked me a little bit. I sort of held my breath in amazement that my father was not simply a very “brainy” person, and was very moved and perhaps even a little overwhelmed at the fact that his apparent (and in any case very obviously expressed) feelings were indeed heartfelt.

And this is now time (I think) for one final point I wish to add. I specifically say “wish” — the very clear German corresponding words being “Wunsch” (the verb being “wünschen”). This German word also corresponds to the English word “want”, and a while back I started a new project focused on wants. As I started it, my father his aide and I discussed the difference between “wants” and “needs”. I gave a rather simple explanation of the way I perceived the difference (see “To Want“). In the end this very simple distinction is perhaps what also explains the end of my father’s life: he needed something, rather than simply wanting it. In my view, what he ultimately needed was the presence of his long lost wife.

OK, that just made me cry — I am now happy that my mother and father are now together again. Tschüss + see ya later! 😀

3 thoughts on “My Old Man

  1. Your father was truly the patriarch of the Family. He once gave me advice when I asked for it, on how to get it right with my significant other’s grandson with whom I have had a special bond since birth. Your father said to me, “Let him (Carter) know you are there for him”. Your father’s wisdom, compassion and love was spot on. To say those words to Carter let him know there was more than a bond at birth, but also a commitment into the future. So many people love your father. I think it was partially because they knew of his greatness of character and wisdom of spirit. My memory of your father is he was there for his Family, he included me, he was there for me. I shall miss him dearly. He’ll be with me always.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I will add a comment, as not to would leave me feeling unappreciative of all that my father gave me. He gave me having compassion for others. He gave me free thought. He gave me large tracts of his wisdom. He gave me friendship. He gave me the pleasure of his genuine smile. He gave me many thanks for doing what I wanted to do most – be by his side. He let me help him without asking for help. He gave me the realization that life is about more than that which we acquire or can touch, …, it is a feeling that takes root in your inner heart – contentment. He let me find that.
    My brother is right – at least I genuinely hope so – that my father is back as one with my mother. I wish the both of them that all we hope for when we think of what will be when we depart, …that “the other side” holds love, and forgets about the rest. May their love be as one, together with all those they had loved and that departed before them.
    I hope I am granted a spot near them when the time comes. I miss them both so very much.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Very beautiful — both Heide and Anthony! Thank you for sharing your thoughts — I am sure that both of our parents (I think that both felt very much like your parents, too, Anthony) already know how much they meant to us. ❤ But it is nice for us to express these feelings, it makes us feel better as long as we are still here (in *this* world).

    Liked by 1 person

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