The younger Mr. Wilner was about 11 when I sold a pair of shoes to a homeless man who visited our a garage sale.
He asked me why I charged the man anything and I said it was a question of dignity and explained the man had already taken out his wallet.
“This guy wanted to pay something, so I took the two dollars he offered. It made him feel better, it was a question of dignity.”
Tonight on the first night of Chanukah of 2023 we shared a second moment where I thought the question of a person’s dignity was in the mix.
The work day extended later than expected and there wasn’t time to defrost nor energy to cook so we went to a local butcher shop.
It is one of favorite places and in addition to their butcher services they have a restaurant that makes a number of meals we enjoy.
This evening they ran into some sort of issue and they had to remake our meals
He asked us if we wanted a drink while we waited for them to be remade and I said a Coke would be fine. After he brought it over he said he would so something else to take care of us.
I smiled and thanked him.
A few minutes later he returned with newly made meals, a receipt that showed he had refunded the cost of our meals and a very generous gift card.
I was pleasantly surprised and made a point to not only thank him but promise to return.
Once we hit the car Mr. Wilner the younger and I talked about how well the owner had handled things. I followed it up by saying I asked for the Coke because the man looked not only angry, but embarrassed.
“I felt like it was a question of dignity again. He needed to feel like he was taking care of us.”
That is an extended version of the theme to Band Of Brothers and the opening to The Pacific. In an earlier post I wrote about how these shows meant something to my grandfathers.
They mean something to me too, but I look at them differently for obvious reasons. I don’t watch them and think about guys I knew who went overseas and didn’t come back or who came back different men than when they left.
The guys I know that went overseas went to Iraq and Afghanistan. Some did multiple tours and a few definitively came back in bad shape.
And of course, I know multiple people who have fought in various wars in Israel. Some are back in Gaza at ages far older than when they first went.
Others have talked about their time in Lebanon but all have known a different life than I have. There have been discussions through the years about what it was like and I have voiced some thoughts and questions.
I figured that if I ever had to fight I would do the best I could because it is how I was raised. You don’t hide. You do what it takes as best you can and go from there.
That rings differently in my ears now and I understand my view of mortality has changed a bit. I am far more aware of the ticking of the clock and that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.
My Facebook friends list is filled with more than a few people who no longer walk among us and who would be considered my contemporary.
I have told people things that I wouldn’t have said in years past because I was concerned that I might not get the chance because things could happen.
They might not and I might have a dozen different chances in the future, but what if I didn’t. What if I didn’t say “I love you or you are important to me.”
What if I just left the silence there and figured whatever is meant to be will be.
The answer is I would survive, it is what I do. I survive and often thrive but I would be irked with myself. I would be pissed off that I didn’t put things out there.
That is not how I want to live my life.
Even though I do believe that some things happen because they are meant to be it doesn’t mean there isn’t merit in trying to influence them.
Why do we have to wait forever for the perfect moment and the perfect opportunity.
That may never come and even if it does we may not recognize it when it does, so I sometimes say “fuck it” and speak my mind.
You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone is tied into some of that and thoughts about the gaslighters and Jew haters that have chosen to poke their heads up like mushrooms springing out of manure.
Can’t hide, can’t wait, can’t just hope. We let 20 years of demonization take root and now we’re seeing the results.
Got to push back and push forward.
Sometimes got to make like Joshua of old and tear down a few walls.