First Time

Upon my first day at the bench beside my father I was given a  receiver to polish and true. Being only a child at the time, after a few brief moments of enthusiastic polishing I asked him impatiently; "is this good enough?" My father never looked up from his work when he inquired simply; "Is it perfect?" Glancing at the receiver I noticed the tiny scratches that remained on the area I'd just deemed completed and confessed; "Well, no.........". Then, at the precise moment of hesitation in my vioce my father quietly replied; "Then its not done is it?" It was a solemn moment for a young man and a lesson that I have never forgotten.

My Grandfather

I would like to tell you a brief story I think you might enjoy: my grandfather, a man I loved intensely and greatly respected, was from the old country. He was intensely bigoted (only by today's standards, by the standards of his time he would considered a moderate!) against several ethnic groups. HOWEVER, and to his great credit, he recognized this flaw in his character and saw it as a personal failing his entire life. I NEVER saw nor, did I EVER even hear, of him uttering an unkind word against anyone. He was very well liked and his funeral was widely attended by members of the various ethnic groups that he befriended in the old neighborhood. However, in private he would lament to me that he should not "think the way he was taught to think" and that sometimes "he could not get the foul thoughts from his head". His great disappointment came from the fact that he believed, in his heart of hearts, that a true gentleman did not think that way and, in my grandfather's noble heart, being a true gentleman should be the goal of every man. Now, so many years later, I think the world and I can forgive my grandfather for a few errant thoughts. He never once acted on them and he was, in every way, a friend to all in his community. My point is that there are many ways to handle the sad fact that we are all imperfect, that bigotry and prejudice creep into our consciousness at times as much as we strive to prevent it. I think then that my grandfather's great gift to me was this; he taught me to rise above it. That to be a man is to rise above oneself every day and never to be abandon yourself to your imperfections. To display to yourself and the community the best you can be though you fight the same pitfalls as the rest of mankind. Were he alive today, he would be disgusted with the insanity of the middle east and the creeping hatred that invades our homeland. Though he would not preach you simply could not miss his example and he left a mark on me, a tiny reminder in my heart, that I think we can all use right now.