Sunday, June 19, 2005


Another (Earthly) Father to Honor

Jonah Goldberg, writing in National Review Online, offers a moving tribute to his father, based on words he spoke at his father's funeral.

I am thankful for Jonah sharing these words about his Dad. The thought occurred to me, what a wonderful legacy of memories and attributes to have! I am sorry that Jonah must celebrate the day without his Dad.

I am gratified that there are still Dad's of Great Substance in the world, that there are sons and daughters who may still pay tribute. I gratefully count myself among that number on this Father's Day, and grateful too I can still tell him so. The world is perhaps not so bad off as we sometimes may lament.

Some gems from Jonah's tribute. First, some thoughts on humor and wisdom.
But I think it would be a mistake to think my Dad’s wisdom and his humor were different facets of his personality. For him, “humor” and “wisdom” were different words for the same thing. After all, a sense of humor is merely the ability to see connections between things we haven’t noticed before (while laughter is what we do when we realize that those connections should have been obvious all along). Is wisdom really such a different thing?
And a very remarkable story about the uniqueness of life on Earth:
To this day, I clearly remember how he insisted that it was far more likely, in a random universe without a God, that astronauts would find a perfectly running pocket-watch on Mars than even a rudimentary life form, since even single-celled creatures were vastly more complex than a pocket watch.
And, last but not least, a very funny story that I think every parent can appreciate:
One time, when I was in high school, I was eating something with hot sauce in the kitchen. By accident, I got some on my fingers and then managed to rub the Tabasco into my eye. The stinging began almost immediately and I ran to the bathroom and started flushing my eye with water from the tap. My dad walked by the open bathroom door and saw me. He came up to me and asked what was wrong. In short spurts between splashes of water, I told him, “I…rubbed…hot…sauce…in-in-in… muh-my eye.”

My Dad paused for a moment and then in that dry, razor-like pitch-perfect monotone said, “Damn. I could kick myself for not telling you not to rub hot sauce in your eye.”
The stories Jonah relates are so rich with meaning, intelligence and humor, I think he could create a deeply moving Biography. I have long admired Goldberg's writing (and the thinking that evidently precedes it), and now I have a better appreciation perhaps of some of his inspiration.

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