When I was growing up, I was embarrassed to beseen with my father. He was severely crippled andvery short, and when we would walk together, hishand on my arm for balance, people would stare. Iwould inwardly squirm at the unwanted attention. Ifhe ever noticed or was bothered, he never let on.
It was difficult to coordinate our steps — hishalting, mine impatient — and because of that, wedidn''t say much as we went along. But as westarted out, he always said, "You set the pace. I willtry to adjust to you. "
Our usual walk was to or from the subway, which was how he got to work. He went to worksick, and despite nasty weather. He almost never missed a day, and would make it to the officeeven if others could not. A matter of pride.
When snow or ice was on the ground, it was impossible for him to walk, even with help. Atsuch times my sisters or I would pull him through the streets of Brooklyn, NY, on a child''ssleigh to the subway entrance. Once there, he would cling to the handrail until he reached thelower steps that the warmer tunnel air kept ice-free. In Manhattan the subway station was thebasement of his office building, and he would not have to go outside again until we met him inBrooklyn'' on his way home.
When I think of it now, I marvel at how much courage it must have taken for a grown man tosubject himself to such indignity and stress. And at how he did it — without bitterness orcomplaint .
He never talked about himself as an object of pity, nor did he show any envy of the morefortunate or able. What he looked for in others was a "good heart", and if he found one, theowner was good enough for him.
Now that I am older, I believe that is a proper standard by which to judge people, even though Istill don'' t know precisely what a "good heart" is. But I know the times I don''t have onemyself.
Unable to engage in many activities, my father still tried to participate in some way. When alocal sandlot baseball team found itself |without a manager, he kept it going. He was aknowledgeable baseball fan and often took me to Ebbets Field to see the Brooklyn Dodgersplay. He liked to go to dances and parties, where he could have a good time just sitting andwatching.
On one memorable occasion a fight broke out at a beach party, with everyone punching andshoving. He wasn''t content to sit and watch, but he couldn''t stand unaided on the soft sand.In frustration he began to shout, "I'' ll fight anyone who will tit down with me!"
Nobody did. But the next day people kidded him by saying it was the first time any fighter wasurged to take a dive even before the bout began.
I now know he participated in some things vicariously through me, his only son. When I playedball (poorly), he "played" too. When I joined the Navy he "joined" too. And when I came homeon leave, he saw to it that " I visited his office. Introducing me, he was really saying, "This is myson, but it is also me, and I could have done this, too, if things had been different." Thosewords were never said aloud.
He has been gone many years now, but I think of him often. I wonder if he sensed myreluctance to be seen with him during our walks. If he did, I am sorry I never told him howsorry I was, how unworthy I was, how I reGREtted it. I think of him when I complain abouttrifles, when I am envious of another''s good fortune, when I don''t have a "good heart".
At such times I put my hand on his arm to regain my balance, and say, "You set the pace, I willtry to adjust to you."
1. cripple v. 使残疾，损害
2. inwardly adv. 在内心
3. squirm v. 蠕动
4. let on 泄密
5. coordinate v. (使)配合
6. adjust to 调整，使适合于
7. nasty adj. 肮脏的，不愉快的
8. sleigh n. 雪橇
9. cling to 抓紧
10. handrail n. (楼梯)扶手
11. basement n. 地下室
12. marvel v. 诧异
13. subject…to 使…经历
14. indignity n. 轻蔑，侮辱
15. punch v. (用拳头)猛砸
16. shove v. 推，乱推
17. content adj. 满意的
18. frustration n. 失望
19. take a dive 认输
20. bout n. 拳击比赛
21. vicariously adv. 可替代地
22. see to it that 保证
23. envious adj. 妒忌的