I barely knew him so this post by my mother brought tears to my eyes. I won't have much to add and I really think anybody interested should follow the link and perhaps even read some more of her stuff. She's brilliant. OK, a bit more from me at the end.
My brother Shelty, 15 years my elder, was a legend, to his family at least, before he was 20. He went off to war in 1944, a few weeks after our mother died of liver cancer; came back bearing a Nazi helmet and an SS dagger with an ivory hilt; and soon after that disappeared to Wyoming, where he studied animal husbandry (who knew what that was?) under the GI Bill at the university in Laramie instead of going to Princeton and entering his father’s firm on Wall Street. After graduation from high school, Dad had sent him to work on a friend’s ranch until he was called up, and from then on he renounced the East and all its conventions.
Though time and the family diaspora had separated us, we became very close in later life. But in many ways, he never stopped being a legend. This was a man who won regional tennis tournaments after two knee replacements—both done at the same time, something he did not recommend. They were Old Fossil tournaments, for the over-65, and he had a collection of fossils instead of silver cups on his mantlepiece. Every other year he volunteered for an Earth Watch project, flying out to Botswana to tag crocodiles, to Australia for something to do with koalas or kangaroos, to the Patanal wetlands in Brazil to catalogue parrots....
Some time the following winter he wrote that he was searching for a new Earth Watch project. “Why don’t you find somewhere close to me for a change?” I said. And so he did. For the first time Earth Watch was sponsoring a dolphin-counting program in the Ambracian Bay in western Greece....
After a couple of days, we drove him to the bus station and off he went to Vonitsa. At 81, he shared a dorm and a bathroom with six or seven young women, helped to cook and clean like one of the gang, proved invaluable help to the project manager, a Catalan, and entertained them all.Seriously, read it all and let me know if it leaves you unmoved.
I know I'm skirting the fair use rules but I figure family ties have that covered.
I have no idea how my uncle would have voted normally but I know he would have despised Mitt Romney, the man with no spine or center.
Shelty had both, in spades. I wish I'd known him better.