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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Poppa 1925 - 2014

I am not ready to write about my sweet Poppa yet, but here is the eulogy my brother Barry wrote.

Max Goldman 

 My father taught me everything I know about how to be a human   being.
 He taught me all the usual things fathers teach their sons: how to drive a car, how to tie a tie, how to swing an ax, and how to handle a pool cue.
 He also taught me not to be afraid of bullies, and he taught me to treat women with respect.
 He taught me to tell the truth, even when it’s difficult.                                                                           Especially when it’s difficult.
He was an artist. His paintings hang in the houses of many of the people in this room.
He was a craftsman. My sister, my mother and I all have furniture he made.                                                                                                               And the harpsichord he built with my Uncle Hy is a beautiful thing to behold.
He never really got the hang of computers, but for almost anything else if he couldn’t fix it, it wasn’t broke.
He was a novelist. Not many people know that. But he had a book in him, and he got it out.
He was a musician. He wasn’t a very good fiddle player, but he played with the Southfield Symphony Orchestra and wrote the program notes for all their concerts for many years.                                                             
He got great joy from playing chamber music with his friends.               
And he was a marvelous piano player.
He was a successful businessman.                                                                                                                         
 He wasn’t preoccupied with financial success.                                           
(Although he did buy Amazon at 3. And never sold.)
 He supported the family, put Amy and me through college, grad school, and law school.                                                                                               And my mother will never have to worry about financial security.
But no matter how successful he became, he stayed a liberal Democrat.          
He may have been a successful suburbanite, but he voted all his life like a poor black man.
He could be plenty tough when he had to be.                   
Believe me.
But if you ever saw him help my mother button her blouse, or saw him administer medications to his little dog, or talk to his houseplants, or take a bug outside to release it, you know you’ve never seen a kinder, more loving, or gentler soul.
He never had a boss.                 
I don’t have a boss.        
Amy doesn’t have a boss.                 
I don’t think that’s a coincidence. It’s something we learned from the old man.   
And he didn’t have a boss in a larger sense.                 
He was a dyed in the wool atheist all his life.                             
A Jewish atheist, but an atheist.
He didn’t have any patience for superstition or mumbo jumbo of any kind.
I’m enormously proud to have known him. 

1 comment:

Steve Klaper said...

I met Max when I was 13 years old, hanging out with Amy and Ricky and Lefty in Amy’s backyard, or basement, or kitchen. Max was unlike any other dad I knew. He painted canvases. He played the violin. He was soft-spoken, with a twinkle in his eye. He’d ask us kids questions, smile at our answers, say something cryptic and wander off with a chuckle.

I don’t know how Amy and Barry took any of this but, to the rest of us, he was Zen Dad, years before we actually knew anything about zen. We never knew what he was going to say — sometimes he didn’t say anything at all— but when he did address us, it was never do this, do that, take your feet off the chair, where are you going when will you be back; it was usually something curious and interesting. And then he built a harpsichord, which just cemented the deal.

Yep, Max Goldman was cool, the sort of unique role-model that a 13 year old kid doesn’t often bump into. I’m pleased that he was rewarded with a long life filled with people who loved him.