Sunday, August 24, 2008

My Father - Al Messina (1/1/1922-8/20/2008)

What can I say in 3 minutes of a man of whom I could easily write a book?

To many that knew him; my father was a renaissance man that also retained a great sense of humor. To many a teacher’s teacher.

To my mother he was the immovable rock on which she built a life that befits her stoic character. After he retired he made supporting her and her artist career the mission of his remaining years. His greatest wish was that he could outlast her by a day so to spare her today’s anguish.

To those that trusted him, he gave unflinching loyalty to the point of taking a bullet not by accident, but in a calculated gamble to pursue safety not for himself, but for the group. When I met his commander 55 years later, he could not stop telling me how I exist against all odds.

To me he was a father in the warm and loving sense we all have one, but as I grew into adulthood he became even more than a best friend. He became the only one on earth that understood my drive and sometimes quixotic goals; the one that shared my sense of being, in this new country, always a bit of a stranger in a strange land.

He backed me to the end on a hopeless business venture because he alone understood that honor demanded it and finances be damned. We both loved Shackleton’s story and understood that against the slimmest chance of success it is one’s duty never to give up.

He was my Chief Editor for all I wrote and tried to publish – Sorry for you he did not get to edit these thoughts for today.

He was my Software Testing Department whenever I needed a partner to test the countless programs that made my professional career possible – Let it now be known: that was my secret.

He was my Research Department – Every day on my way home from the office I could call and ask “Se ghe’, what’s new today” and I got the news summary, analysis of politics, global economics, capital markets, global warming, peak oil. I often wished our president had ½ that much insight available.

He was my library – I never left Bellevue without new books and often got them in the mail. English, Italian, French were all in he game; latin and greek he just quoted on occasion. Engineering, architecture, economics, computer systems, art history, painting, photography, movie making, writing, philosophy, physics, classical music, opera and jazz, his favorite. For him, the whole of this added up to the wonder of our reality and consciousness and character.

Who but me had his personal Mensa-scale Socratic philosopher to teach endless curiosity, logics, reasoning, dialectics, objectivism and the irony of life and yet always hunting for teaching accounts of human courage and survival in the service of a grander purpose.

I had it all and so grand it was. So grand is the void now that will never fill.

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