Tomorrow my new novel gets released. But I’d gladly scratch that event off the calendar if the wonderful man I dedicated the novel to got well. I’d rather talk about him.
He was an LIU teacher. He taught special kids, troubled kids. He worked one-on-one with them in grade school, followed them to their jobs after h.s. Worked with their bosses. Checked on them. Paid more attention to his students than many parents pay attention to their children. He kept in contact with them after h.s. He visited them, checked up on them long after his job requirements ended.
He loves his kids. He knows them and follows their progress in life after most teachers are concerned about the kids sitting in front of them. He makes me, also an ex-teacher, feel very inadequate. He never dismissed kids–passed them on to another grade, lost his sense of humor about them–(believe me, you need a sense of humor if you’re going to teach). In short he’s a man I admire for many reasons.
We talk all the time. We talk about this country. He thinks maybe it’s time to admire what’s best in us. Even if we don’t see it in ourselves. Even if we don’t like the sound of it. Laws, for instance. Immoral laws like separate lunch counters, separate drinking fountains. Like two people, any people, not being able to marry. Those laws weren’t our best. And they were changed. But change seems to be heading backwards.
Maybe it’s time to admit our shortcomings as a nation and aspire to something better. You pick the source. I’m not a preacher. I’m picking my friend. That’s why I dedicated my novel to him. I’m 65. I’ve seen some shit, and he’s seen some shit. And I can guess–if this country doesn’t pick something or someone who appeals to our better selves, my friend is going to be very disappointed.