It’s something what the mind races to when it cannot think.
When I was in the hospital, waiting in a dark room to talk to dad again, I thought of the blog. If the terrible thing happened, should the blog’s design change?
The design changed for my grandfather’s passing. Before that day this blog’s banner was a color photo of Lake Henry (outside of Scotland, South Dakota). The lake means a lot to me and meant a lot to my grandfather. What is under that lake does, too.
After that death the color photo became black and white. It looked as cold as I felt.
Then I decided no.
The tdaxp masthead is of the moat around the forbidden city in Beijing, China. My dad was very excited at all the photos I sent back. He was excited about China, too: trying Harben and Tsingtao beer and trying to learn some basic Chinese (my last memory of the shopping with my dad in western Sioux Falls is trying to find some Chinese-language introduction material for him).
In particular, dad would shanghai anyone he could — especially guys near his age — to look at the following photo on his imac. He would begin by saying how I had visited Peking and mention how the city is known for its millions of bicycles. He would show the following image, as the imac’s resolution only allowed part of the photo to be displayed at a time.
Dad would then scroll right. I’ll let you view the full image to get the effect.
I vividly remember this story, being immediately told about it by both parties soon afterward.
It’s hard to think of anything that captures dad’s personality better.
It is difficult to put into words the range of emotions I’ve experienced through this. Initially concern, then hope, then consternation, then despair. Eventually fury.
I feel great pain now, as an acquaintance of a great man lost and vicariously as a friend to his children.
Ideas of faith and justice and fairness fall apart at times like this. For some, there is solace in family or faith. For others, solace in solitude and reflection. For others, it is best to revisit the fond memories.
Your father was a kind, gentle man with a sharp mind, wit and zeal for life that refreshed those he met. I have told dozens of people who will never meet him the story of living on the beach and fighting wild dogs for his food and dealing with machete-wielding bus occupants.
Once, I called John to speak with him about some trivial matter at the apartment. Initially, however, I told him I was calling for legal help. I told him I’d run a bus full of nuns and children off the road. He said, “Aron, for a big enough retainer, I’ll make you a hero.”
He’ll be missed greatly, but you know that very well.
Thank you, Aaron, for the story. And my, and my family’s, appreciation to everyone who sent their thoughts, their prayers, their hopes, and their kind words.