Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Many years ago my father introduced me to a writer named Ayn Rand and to her books on her philosophy of what she called “Objectivism”. Her stories were of heroes and heroines of strong character, intelligence, and who were the creators and do-ers in societies of those who would be carried along on the backs of these heroes’ actions. Perhaps her most famous book, “Atlas Shrugged”, involved a group of such characters in a time of an industrial boom in the world and these people were the ones making progress happen. When they felt that they were taxed to the point of suffocation and felt that the weight of a world they were making spin was taking too much of a toll on them, they left it all behind and formed a commune of sorts, leaving the ungrateful behind to figure out how to keep it going without them. Hence the name of “Atlas Shrugged” in reference to the mythical strong man who held up the sky and kept it from dropping to the earth below. I did a senior English project on her books and her philosophy and I took much of her thoughts to heart. I knew personally, characters like hers of such extreme strength of will and who acted with deliberation and an honesty of unparalleled proportion. My father is one such person, and he has been my “Atlas” my entire life, and for so many others whose lives he has touched in his long career and life.

My father is now old. He is ready to move on from this life. I know how much he hates that he is no longer super man, the sole hero to us all. He is tired, he hurts, and he is no longer able to carry our hopes and our faith that all is good in the future. It isn’t necessarily. And for the first time in my life, I can totally empathize with his feelings. No I do not wish a soon end of my father’s life, but the inevitable will happen at some point and in his mind that time is soon, or so I think he hopes . He never wanted to be old and decrepit and dependent on helpers to tend to his meds, and check on his pace maker. His has been a life of total independence on anyone’s actions, or anyone’s opinions of his actions. He can no longer be this thing that he was for so long. He can no long be Atlas, and he would rather die than be ineffective. I understand it now. The hero and warrior that he was, is now simply tired of fighting and wants to put the weight of the world down.

My earliest memories and my first awareness of my dad, was of me riding on his shoulders when he would take us on hikes at various parks and such. I would hold his ears for balance and I would pretend to steer him by pulling one way or another on them. I of course out grew this activity pretty quickly but my father continued to be the pillar of strength and the force that carried so much of my formation and personality. He pushed us, my brothers and me, to be the best we could be at whatever the endeavor, to be self reliant, and to expect excellence out of ourselves. I certainly did not make the aim in many of my attempts but I gave it a whole effort when I did, and was always seeking the nod of his approval.

As a young man called to the military he proved himself to be the leader and hero and was decorated with many of the highest medals awarded. After a very successful career of being a commercial contractor building shopping centers, my dad sold his business and was in a bit of limbo at what to do next when fate called him to a much different line of work. My brother David, who I think was Dad’s favorite child and who was so much like him, was killed in a car crash just before his 21st birthday, during this limbo time for my dad. David had been encouraging Dad to get into politics for years, because David felt that if the brightest and best don’t take on the responsibility of such, that the society will be governed by the leftovers, morons. With David’s death as his motivation, Dad stepped into the city government, and ultimately became the chief manager and tsar of this town and held the mayor’s office for 22 years, and did so without ever taking a penny of the salary.

There were many who did not like the iron hand that he held. There was the Christmas Eve that the windows to his car, parked just outside the living room where we sat, were blown out by gunfire. Those who were used to the good ol boy method of getting things taken care of were surprised to find him unwilling to take their bribes and under the table offers. The city was a wreck in disgrace when he took it on his shoulders to carry and he left it in a perfect financial state and a safe place to live, when the fickleness of the voters forgot what it had been like before him and un-elected him.

The un-election was a deeply wounding thing for him, feeling the pain of putting so much of his life and spirit into being Atlas for this town and its people, and having his efforts become so unappreciated, and largely forgotten. He rebound, however, with another career, and then yet another, each one was left in the best business shape possible.

My dad was a always a fierce competitor, and played sports with brawn and a mental toughness that would leave you gasping. The first time I played racquet ball with him, my shoelaces were soaked and I was totally winded, while he bounced around like a puppy slamming the ball across the room with arms of steel. He loved to take the family of ski trips to Colorado and dragged us down countless idiotic black diamond runs, where we fell for distance, and he characteristically fought the moguls with a definite lack of grace clamping onto his ever present cigar.

He continued playing with this focus, and worked out with weights daily, even through his first couple of rounds of chemo therapy with a bout of throat cancer a few years back. Finally the poison that was being used to try to save his life, knocked him down and he never fully recovered that same fire. His mighty strength has waned, and the once fierce sparkle to his eyes has dimmed. So now he waits, for that which awaits us all.

Today marks the one year time passing of the loss of my other Atlas, my beautiful gelding who died from colic last March 15th. I can not help but feel the pain of this memory, still a very raw nerve, but mostly compartmentalized now so I can function. Reading my last year’s blog entry can open it right up, and tears are not far away when I do. Seasons have come and gone but the grief remains.

It is such a sad part of this wonderful life that it has to end, however the age and whatever the form and it is only the ephemeral memories that keep their spirits here, and close. I have been so fortunate to have been a part of my father’s life and there is no way I can ever repay what he gave me and the things he taught me. I now sadly wish him a gentle crossing when his time does finally come, a truely great Atlas that will be so sorely missed. The world will never be the same without him.


  1. Truely an ikonic man that i had the previlige to work under for 20 years at two different carrers

  2. That was touching! My thoughts and prayes are with you and all the family. Keep his spirits up! I miss you all! - Jayme