He was our own Methuselah, but twice as wise,
the father we always knew,
more certain than the sun, more reliable
than the rock face of every mountain
we ever climbed, a princely
stranger to the arts of selfishness and
self-advancement, the one guy you could
count on to drive the grandkids home in the
most hopeless snow storms or to walk your
dog in drenching rains, who played each card
life dealt out as it came and graduated
summa cum laude from streets
mighty Harvard never knew, who had
the answers long before you even figured out
the questions, so impossibly stubborn and so
annoyingly right, who could tell you how to mend
your pants or how to live your life, as you pleased,
devoted guardian of family history, not excluding the most
arcane details, such as what his cousin Eleanor was wearing when
she visited us one day 60 years ago in the Bronx,
who was as self-educated as Lincoln, as New York as Whitman,
a man of ideas and words, who shlepped along an
awesome vocabulary wherever he went, a man
of scrabble and crosswords puzzles,
of English and Yiddish,
who could fix anything, pack any trunk,
even wring non-existent discounts
from unsuspecting stores, mere putty
in his hands, a prophet of pragmatism, an
evangelist of simplicity and thrift, who earned his
cynicism the hard way during whole lifetimes of close
observation, oh, that knowing nod of the head, (“Nu?),
who knew well…men, work, books, war,
ideas, and ideals, himself a great soaring
monument to human decency, one statue that
will never be toppled, so bereft of hidden
agendas, so unneeding of credit for
all he did, for whom sharing was never a
sacrifice and doing without always
an unguilty pleasure, as deliberate as patience,
as civilized as a citizen of the world, his
visa stamped by every culture, this man of family,
of responsibilities, for whom everything
had its place, an artist who carved stone and
character alike, indefatigable Jewish
conversationalist with whom every hardened
nurse from New York to Boston fell in love, and
who still ask on quiet midnight wards, “Do you
remember that guy who…”, this Caretaker of
all Humanity, this Young Rebel who
palled around with socialists, this
single-handed, one-legged
Repairer of the World, this Survivor,
this Dad, this Grandfather, Husband,
Garment Worker, Union Man,
this Friend to All and Sworn
Enemy of Injustice,
Cruelty, Greed, Intolerance

Hail to the Mentsch-in-Chief,
to my Dad, Jerry Schechter.

December 2008

All written material © Bill Schechter, 2016
Contact Bill Schechter