No classes this week so I spent my time exercising and then working on my father’s writings. I’m hoping to get all of my family’s literary efforts into some easily accessible format like CD or DVD and stop thinking about them. I find my father’s writing troubling. In his old age he was a troubled man. He spent a lot of time writing after a heart attack forced him to retire. He had no other interests; he seldom left his apartment because my mother was certain she could keep him alive as long as she kept him within her sight. He spent his time writing and rewriting his memoirs. Each time he rewrote the story he added elements, some interesting, some paranoid fantasies. I’m trying to keep the interesting parts.

He wrote about his early life in Europe, antisemitism, his transition to life in Chicago, antisemitism, coping with terrible financial problems during the Depression, antisemitism, finally becoming a poultry peddler after being trained and working as an architect. Ten years after the heart attack that retired him he got Guillaume Barre syndrome, spent seven weeks on a respirator, many more weeks in rehab where he was sure they were trying to kill him: antisemitism, again. The line between reality and paranoia is very fine, indeed. In the end he crossed it. He outlived my mother by several years, and went from assisted living to a series of different nursing homes, a new one each time he thought someone was out to get him.

He was a fine man whose life spanned almost the entire twentieth century. He came from a primitive, rural environment in Europe but managed to learn about and understand almost all of the century’s amazing technology. At the end he had trouble seeing and hearing but he still managed to keep up with what was going on in the world. I would like to keep his memories alive.

1 thought on “Papa

  1. I am glad you are doing this. Listening to that voice to keep his memoirs alive is important. I so enjoyed your work with your grandmother. Very inspiring…hope your break is going swimmingly. I don’t have as much computer time on my little vacation here.

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