He's goodness personified


He's 55 today. His birthday seems an appropriate time to write about him.

It's been 28 years since he married my oldest daughter, and he's my oldest son-in-law.

He would be embarrassed if he read this column, so he won't, for I will never show it to him. He lives in another state.

Our relationship is based on impassioned teasing, which, after all, is a great catalyst for understanding and love.

In a world where so many people lie, cheat and do wrong to others, where politicians are not to be trusted and any person on the street can be dangerous, it is wonderful to know such a good and decent man.

This is not to put a halo around him, mind you. I've seen him in good times and bad times. We've gone through many a family crisis together. But even at his worst, he's always steady and optimistic. He was the first person I ever knew who used the expression, "That's no problem" -- and with him, it wasn't.

I have always wondered what genetic formula his parents possessed to produce him. What makes a person really good? Imagine what a better place the world would be if there was a formula for such goodness.

He's good without being wimpy or prudish, though. I've heard him say "No" firmly to his wife, his two grown children and to me. But in disciplining his kids he never made them feel humiliated.

He's moral without being moralistic. He's got strong convictions but he's not judgmental. He's intuitive without pronouncements.

When he comes to see us he looks around the house to see what needs fixing. He never needs to ask.

When he got laid off from his job two years ago -- right before Christmas -- we all were devastated. He never whined; he said he'd find something. And he did, three months later. Meantime, he was selling a line of designer pots and pans out of the back of his car. When he lost his job, he comforted us; we, who were so worried and mad.

His family seems to come before his career; perhaps that is the answer to his wholeness and happiness.

I saw him cry once, and it brought him nearer to me. I've always liked a man who can cry.

And I especially like a man who is filled with joy and sadness and dares to show it. Today, that is a rare combination.

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