David was an unlikely role model. Alcoholic, unable to hold a job for long, drifting from sibling to sibling dependent on their love of family to put him up in their homes. They were a good sort, his brothers and sisters, my aunts and uncles. And so they put up with David. And his nieces and nephews got used to him as a sort of flawed authority figure.
But here is the thing about David. He was not lazy. He worked hard wherever he was. He was an easy guest that fixed things, made food, and kept a low profile. He watched over us kids, and while we thought he was a bit grouchy, we respected him.
David was also a reader, and that was probably his biggest gift to me. He read voraciosuly, and he and my Uncles Andy and Bobby would discuss the books in front of the kids. TV was not really a thing for us. Maybe some football, or a movie like the Wizard of Oz. But generally, we consumed books.
David was also a walker, somewhat common in a city like New York, but even more common in our family. Most of my Aunts and Uncles did not own cars. They didn’t even have drivers licenses. You took public transit or you walked. Taxis? That was for rich people.
I don’t know what made David like he was. He fought in Korea, so it could have been something, a scar, or a nightmare he carried from that experience. I will never know.
And so I became a walker. And I became a reader. And I learned that books were something to be discussed and debated. And I learned to be a polite guest and to always lend a hand.
Not a bad legacy from an alcoholic, unemployable, drifter.
© Glenn R Keller 2020, All Rights Reserved
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