I got an email the other day from Paul Z. in Connecticut. Paul has been one of my brother Phil’s best friends since they were kids, and he wrote to object to my recent characterization of my father as "a hard case."
"I know he was a bit stiff," Paul writes, "but he was always decent to me and the rest of your brothers’ friends, and he took my ribbing him pretty well. I don’t know that he was that dogmatic. I saw him in lots of situations where he was upset by various things his kids were going through, and he wasn’t always that hard a case and, indeed, was vulnerable.
"I know he took interest in all of his sons and worried about them and also tried to take positive action to help them succeed in life. He was as straight as an arrow, but he liked and appreciated golf, music and reading annual reports. He was also generous, and he and your mother often offered to include me in your family’s events."
Paul said my dad wasn’t "that hard to get through to," and that I should "try to see him through other people’s eyes. Maybe that way you will realize you both would have enjoyed each other’s company more and more if his life hadn’t been cut off so short. That thought doesn’t have to be something to lament, but rather to take pleasure in what would inevitably have happened. "