Who Would I Be Like If I Wasn't Like Me
Who Would I Most Like to Emulate
Ask many people if they could be somebody else, who would they want to be like and you're most likely to get answers along the lines of somebody rich or somebody famous. Mind you, there isn't anything wrong with that, but I think almost everyone has at least one person in their life past or present that has set a shining example of just being a great person. Sure, most of us would like to be financially well-off or famous, but those things don't necessarily make a person a great person. It's what's inside a person that makes them a great person and how they intereact with family, friends, business associates, etc.
I'd like to say that it was my father that is the person that I would most like to be like, and my father was a good man, but he wasn't a person that I could admire and idolize or have the desire to be more like. Perhaps my grandfather could have been that kind of man, but he passed away before I was born. From stories that my grandmother told us about him, I imagined him to be a very good man too, but since I didn't have any firsthand knowledge of him, I can't say that he would be the person in my life that I have most admired. As a matter of fact, there are many great people in my family that I admire, including all three of my daughters. They too, are great people and have many great qualities that set a shining example of how people should behave.
Characteristics of a Great Man
I lack certain characteristics that I wish that I had, such as compassion and sensitivity. I'm sure that my daughters would have liked for me to have those qualities also, and maybe it is something that I could work on improving, but it certainly is no easy task. Perhaps, what a person becomes is greatly influenced by how they were nutured as a child, and the examples that were set by their parents. My father, like me, was not overly compassionate, nor did he display sensitivity on many occassions that I have memory of.
But, there is one person in my life that has displayed all of those characteristics that I believe made him a great person, a great dad, a great husband, and a great person in his career. It was from him, that I developed an interest in science and chemistry, and that person was my Uncle Milton, who unfortunately is now deceased and we all miss him. He set the bar for being an examplorary all-around great person, and I believe that all the other people that I knew that were in his life as I was growing up, would have agreed with me.
I suspect, he spent a great deal of his adult life in physical pain, as he was suffering from polycystic kidney disease, and he was on dialysis for many years. Yet, I never heard him complain about his affliction or the heavy toll it was taking on him. Perhaps sometimes he let my aunt know of his pains and sufferings, but certainly he never let it show any time I was in his presence, even though I could see the his veins progressively becoming more knotted up from the dialys.
He was the man who embodies my ideas of the perfect father, the perfect husband, the perfect son, the perfect friend, etc. When I was younger, many of his friends would pop in at my grandmother's house when my uncle was around, and I remember hearing many stories of their adventures when they were teenagers. They weren't all exactly angels, but they weren't bad either, they were just fun-loving and they were very interesting tales to hear. I don't remember all of their names anymore, but the ones that come to mind are Rob, Art, and Lee, and I always looked forward to the entertainment they all provided with their storytelling when they were all hanging out together.
He, and his brother, my Uncle Martin, who also is deceased from complications of the same disease, are the ones that taught me how to swim when I was a child. It was great fun back then, because in those days we had a nice, unpolluted creek near to my grandmother's house, and we could walk there from her house. So, sometimes we all walked, and sometimes we would go in one of my Uncle Martin's great cars. He had a fire-engine red 1963 Chevy Impalla convertible that I'm sure was the envy of many of my friends back then. I remember, that both of my uncles would have me stand on their shoulders and jump in the water off of them. To me, it seemed quite high, but the water was deep, clear, and I felt safe. The place where we would go swimming back then, also had a diving platform and a rope swing, although I never induldged in the use of them.
As I was growing up, my parents ability to travel anywhere for vacatons was inhibited by the fact that they were caring for one of my aunts who was an invalid as a result of having menangitis as a child, and she was also mentally retarded. My Uncle Milton, would frequently invite me along on mini-trips, such as to Atlantic City and Jersey City, because he knew that I wouldn't have those opportunities with my parents. He also took me along once on a business trip to Niagra Falls and up into Quebec, Canada along with my aunt and my cousins. That was my first experience being someplace outside of America, and for me it was quite an adventure.
First we went to Niagra Falls, and we took the Thousand Islands boat tour, and saw a really cool castle. . This was an older castle called Boldt Castle, that was somewhat in disrepair, but it was still big and amazing. I have read recently that some restorations have been done on this castle since the time that I was there, back in, I believe maybe 1963 or 1964. The shortest international bridge in the world is another thing we got to see on this tour. It kind of connected two little islands, one of which was in New York and the other in Canada. We visited another amazing place called Casa Loma too, but I don't remember anymore which place we visited first. Casa Loma was all furnished and decorated, and well maintained in stark contrast to Boldt Castle which was in a sad state of disrepair at the time.
We also visited Toronto on the way to Quebec. When we got to Quebec, we had to find a place to stay and remember going to a motel and the people didn't speak English (or wouldn't speak English), and there was some difficulty making them understand that we wanted a room. As I remember it, that evening was a little bit chilly, and we only had a portable heater in the room, which didn't really make it that warm. I remember in Quebec there were street artists doing caricatures and there were lost of old buildings, and quaint narrow streets, but it was difficult to get people to talk to you in English there. We visited some great places on that trip and had some interesting experiences.
My main point here being, that he was a compassionate man, who took the time and effort to provide experiences for me during my youth that were out of reach for my parents. But, not only was a great uncle, but in my observations of how he interacted with my cousins, he was also a great dad. I never saw him angry at any of his kids, even though I'm certain there were times when they did things to aggravate him (is there any kid who doesn't aggravate their parents on occasion?). During many summers, I would spend a week at my aunt and uncle's house, so I had an opportunity, not only to observe his interactions during major family get togethers, but even on a day-to-day basis in the home environment. He always enjoyed spending time with his family, and he always made them aware of his appreciation of well-balanced family life, which perhaps goes hand-in-hand with strong religious convictions.
He was also my idea of a great father. He communicated well with all of my cousins, and was always there to listen when they had concerns. You could always tell that being around his kids was a very important part of life, and he played an active participatory role in many of their extra-curricular activities, more than just a passive by-stander. He was a Boy Scout leader, and I'm sure he was very proud when my cousin attained the level of Eagle Scout. All of my cousins are musically talented, which I think is a combination of nature and nurture. My uncle was a talented cellist, and all of my cousins have followed in their love of stringed instruments.
When I was a small boy I remember family gatherings where my father played the flute or piccolo, my mother played the piano, Uncle Milton played the cello, and Uncle Martin played the violin. Those of the family who weren't playing in this little ensemble were the attentive audience. Those traditions carry on somewhat when my cousins play together in their church. This early introduction to music was probably where I developed my interests; however, my musical tastes are a far cry from the classical and chamber music that was typical of my parents and my uncles back then. But, I still learned to appreciate all types of music in those days.
My uncle was also well respected in his business field. He was a chemical engineer, and even when his disease prevented him from continuing the great deal of travel he had been doing, and his company laid him off, he became a consultant and his previous employer became one of his clients. Even during the period of time after he had been laid off, and was making decisions on what path to take next, I never heard him complain about being out of work, or any of the other problems that people face when they are going through sudden career shifts.
And, these qualities, my dear readers, are some of things that make a great man great, that make a dad go from ordinary to extraordinary, to make husband to go from so-so to wow-wow, to make a laid-off employee go from down in the dumps to ready to make life-changing jumps. And if there was any person in my life that I wish that I could be more like, he would be the one.
- Polycystic Kidney Disease: Silent Killer
Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), if you have it, you were born with it, and there are no symptoms until later in life in many cases. Don't let this killer take you and your family by surprise!!!
- Boldt Castle
Boldt Castle's official website
- Casa Loma
Casa Loma's Official Website
- National Kidney Foundation
Information about what the National Kidney Foundation is and does, and how to make donations.