More than I realized, Dad has helped me keep my balance. When I was growing up, I was embarrassed to be seen with my father. He was severely crippled and very short, and when we walked togeth
er, his hand on my arm for balance, people would stare. I would inwardly struggle at the unwanted attention. If he ever noticed or was bothered, he never let on. It was difficult to coordinate our steps — his halting, mine impatient — and because of that, we didn't say much as we went along. But as we started out, he always said, "You set the pace. I will try to adjust to you." Our usual walk was to or from the subway on which he traveled to work. He went to work sick, and despite nasty weather. He almost never missed a day, and would make to the office even 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. At such times my sisters or I would pull him through the streets of Brooklyn, N.Y., on a child's wagon with steel runners to the subway entrance. Once there, he would cling to the hand-rail until he reached the lower steps that the warmer tunnel air kept free of ice. In Manhattan the subway station was the basement of his office building, and he would not have to go outside again until we met him in Brooklyn on his way home. When I think of it now, I am amazed at how much courage it must have taken for a grown man to subject himself to such shame and stress. And at how he did it—without bitterness or complaint. He never talked about himself as an object of pity, nor did he show any envy of the more fortunate or able. What he looked for in others was a "good heart", and if he found one, the owner was good enough for him. Now that I am older, I believe that is a proper standard by which to judge people, even though I still don't know precisely what a "good heart" is. But I know the times I don't have one myself. Unable to engage in many activities, my father still tried to participate in some way. When a local baseball team found itself without a manager, he kept it going. He was a knowledgeable baseball fan and often took me to Ebbets Field to see the Brooklyn Dodgers play. He liked to go to dances and parties, where he could have a good time just sitting and watching. On one occasion a fight broke out at a beach party, with everyone punching and shoving. 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 sit down with me! I'll fight anyone who will sit down with me!" Nobody did. But the next day people kidded him by saying it was the first time any fighter was urged to take a dive before the fight began. I now know he participated in some things through me, his only son. When I played ball (poorly), he "played" too. When I joined the Navy, he "joined" too. And when I came home on leave, he saw to it that I visited his office. Introducing me, he was really saying, "This is my son, but it is also me, and I could have done this, too, if things had been different." Those words were never
said aloud. He has been gone many years now, but I think of him often. I wonder if he sensed my reluctance to be seen with him during our walks. If he did, I am sorry I never told him how sorry I was, how unworthy I was, how I regretted it. I think of him when I complain about trifles, 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 will try to adjust to you."
当我长大后,我感到尴尬,是在我父那里看见的。他是严重的残疾和很短的,当我们走在一起, 他把手放在我的手臂来平衡,人们会瞪着。我内心挣扎在不必要的注意。如果他曾经注意到了这 些,不管他内心多么痛苦,也从不表现出来。 很难协调我们的步骤——他那蹩脚的,我的耐心,正因为如此,我们没说就像我们走。但正如我 们开始的时候,他总是说,“你定步调。我将试着适应你。” 我们常常往返于从他所乘的地铁上工作。他有病也要上班,哪怕天气恶劣。他几乎从未误过 一天工,并将使到办公室,即使别人不可能。一件值得骄傲的事情。 当雪或冰躺在地上,他已经不可能走,即使有帮助。在这种时候我或者是我的姐妹们就把他拉 过纽约市布鲁克林大街在孩子的马车和钢铁跑步者到地铁入口处。一到那儿,他便抓了 hand-rail 一直走到底下的台阶,因为那里通道的空气暖和些保持无冰。到了曼哈顿,地铁站就在他办公楼的 地下一层,他无须再走出楼来,直到我们在布鲁克林遇见他在回家的路上。 如今每当我想起这些,我惊讶要用多少勇气一个成年男子要经受信这种耻辱和压力。在他如 何做学生痛苦或投诉。 他从不说自己可怜的对象,也从不嫉妒别人的幸运和能力。他所期望的是人家"善良的心",当 他得到,老板够好的了。 现在,我长大了,我相信这是一个适当的标准来判断人,尽管我还不确切地知道"善良的心"是。 但我知道那时我没有拥有一个自己。 无法从事许多活动,我的父亲仍试图以某种方式加入。当一个地方棒球队发现缺少一个领队 时,他便做了领队。 他是个棒球迷,有丰富的棒球知识,而且过去常带我去埃比茨棒球场观看布鲁克 林的鬼精灵队的比赛。他喜欢参加舞会和晚会,他能有一个好的坐着看。 有一次发生了一场争斗的海边晚会上,每个人都动了拳头,推推搡搡。他不甘于坐在那里当观 众,但又无法在松软的沙滩上自己站起来。于是,失望之下,他吼了起来:"我要与谁会坐下来与我! 我要与谁会坐下来与我!” 没有人。但是第二天,人们跟他开玩笑说这是第一次,拳手就坐潜水比赛前开始。 现在我知道一些事情他参与通过我——他唯一的儿子。当我打球时(尽管很差),他也在"打球 "。当我参加海军时,他也"参加"。当我回家休假时,他看到我去他办公室拜访。我介绍,他是真的, 说,“这是我儿子,但也是我,我本来可以做,太,如果情况有所不同。“这些话是从来没有大声地说。 父亲离开我们已经很多年了,但是我时常想起他。我不知道他是否感觉到我和他不愿意被视 为在我们走。如果他这么做了,我很抱歉我从没告诉过他我是多么难过、多么不配我是,我是多么 后悔。我认为他来的时候我为琐事抱怨的时候,当我羡慕别人的好运,当我没有“善良的心”。 在这种时候,我把我的手放在他的手臂来恢复平衡,说,“你定步调。我将试着适应你。”