On a dusty, cluttered shelf in my den, you’ll find an old portable mini-TV with wrinkled silver foil wrapped tightly around its broken antennae. It doesn’t work anymore. Neither does the nearby steel tape measure. They both could easily be thrown away, and my wife — who greatly suspects me of having severe hoarding tendencies — would be more than happy if I did so.
But these items belonged to my father, who passed away suddenly more than 30 years ago. They’re among the few things I have left of him. I also have my late father-in-law’s old 78s, as well as plenty of my mother’s tchotckes.
Needless to say, I have trouble letting go. These things, while rendered pretty much useless and taking up precious space in my house, meant something to these people when they were alive. Hence, they mean something to me now.
I tend to be the same way about people. Even if I don’t keep in touch very often with someone (or at all), I still think about them from time to time, especially if we were once close or if they demonstrated a kindness to me that’s hard to forget. Those are the people you don’t let go of. Especially in your heart.
The other night, I had a dream of a friend of mine who’s a Holocaust survivor. Let’s just call him Morty.
Morty and I go way back. He’s good people. When I was going through a rough patch in my life, he’d check in on me from time to time and take me to lunch. You don’t forget people like that.
Morty’s getting older, and while I couldn’t remember the details of the dream I had about him, I felt a burning urge to call him the next day. Just to make sure he was OK. It’d been about six or seven months since we’d last spoken.
Fortunately, I was able to immediately reach Morty, who lives out of town, and he and his family are doing fine. Perhaps my subconscious was just reminding me it was time to check in on Morty, like he checked in on me when I was a bit down.
As is usually our way, Morty and I started schmoozing for a while. Family, health issues, life, etc.
And then, of course, arose the prickly subject of the recent presidential election. Naturally.
Now Morty, since I’ve known him, tends to be politically conservative. In fact, outspokenly so. I’ve never really divulged my own political leanings to him, but I sense he assumes I’m fairly liberal, being a Jewish media type.
I generally tend to keep my political views to myself because, well, I’m past the point in my life where I want to argue about politics, even when it comes to my concerns about a particular billionaire who will soon become our 45th president. But I also would never debate or argue with a Holocaust survivor about politics. Or pretty much anything else. After what they’ve been through, I’m only here to listen and learn, not pontificate or preach.
“I didn’t vote for Trump,” Morty said, knowing full well I would likely fall off my chair.
“No!” I responded. “You really voted for Hillary?”
Morty paused for effect. “Are you crazy? Of course not!” he growled. “But I didn’t vote for him! I voted against her!”
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“It means that I don’t like him one bit, but I voted against her. Not for him.”
I let that sit for a minute. “Um, OK.”
For the next few minutes, I let Morty rant on about how Hillary Clinton would have kept our nation barreling down the same dark, blind alleyway as Barack Obama, a man whom I admire and sincerely believe will be missed sorely in a fairly short amount of time.
But is Donald Trump qualified for the job, I asked Morty.
“How the hell do I know?” he yelled. “Who really knows? But at least he’s not her!”
It’s hard to argue with that kind of logic. Donald Trump is, indeed, not Hillary Clinton.
I withstood his criticism of Clinton like body blows, just praying at some point he would start to get tired. But he kept going, until I finally changed the subject.
At the end of our conversation, Morty got in one more observation. “Don’t worry,” he said. “You’ll see. Trump will be alright. This country is still the greatest country in the world. We’ll be alright. Don’t believe what they’re all saying. We’re going to be OK.”
Well, Morty, as the old Yiddish saying goes, from your lips to God’s ears. Because otherwise, our future won’t be worth much more than my dad’s ancient mini-TV and broken tape measure.
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