The year, 2006, was my most difficult year, to date. Jessica and I lost about a dozen friends and relatives… actually, we stopped counting, at some point.
In February 2006, both of our fathers passed away, and I was diagnosed with Diabetes. The day after the ‘life celebration’ for Jessica‘s dad (Irv Kluger), she blacked out at the wheel and totaled her car. She was unconscious for the better part of an hour.
When she awoke and refused an ambulance ride to the emergency room, the metro officer, at the scene, decided to arrest her when she couldn’t navigate a straight line. This, after being unconscious for an extended period. He didn’t take into account the floating bone chip in her left ankle or arthritic left knee. Nor did he seek out the handicap flag in her car, to corroborate those limitations.
At various times, well-meaning friends would say, “Well, it couldn’t get worse.” We would explain that, indeed, it could get worse, and it had… our follow-up became, “Please don’t tempt fate by ever uttering that cliche, again, to anyone.”
When things go to hell, entirely, you look for things to remind of you good times, particularly of those you have lost. In working my way through my dad’s possessions, there are both the obvious, and the rare. His collection of published books fill a 6′ tall book-case in our living room. The total process of sifting through a parent’s possessions is not unlike an archeological dig.
Almost none of daddy’s clothes fit me. One of favorites his was a black cashmere overcoat. That does fit me and continues to warm me on cold winter days, here, and in my travels.
The most interesting family relics are the photos and possessions one has never seen and didn’t know about. The item, pictured in this post, is one of those. A small cafeteria spoon, used by my dad (Martin Ebon), at Ellis Island, upon his arrival in the United States. He carefully inscribed the place and date (1938) and tucked the artifact away as a keepsake.
In 1938, cafeteria spoons didn’t come in thin, plastic wrappers. They came in a plastic box, with a sponge bottom. The packaging preceded eco-friendly by decades, but makes a wonderful showcase, today. The spoon wasn’t plastic, but pressed paper product of some sort.
When I was my dad’s age, I was in college in Arizona, experiencing no such landmark moments comparable to Ellis Island. Today, July 4th, 2012, I have given this historic spoon a place, directly in my view, just below my computer monitor. It will stay there to remind me just how fortunate my dad was to escape Nazi Germany, and just how lucky I have been in countless ways.
We all have good times and bad times. To appreciate freedom, in its core sense, is to know the good fortune of independence. That, under even the most challenging of circumstances, there can be better days ahead.
Today, I reflect on 2006 as a blur and a bad memory. I prefer to focus on this little spoon as beacon of optimism.
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