Wednesday, November 26, 2008

And He Laughs

I'm sorry about the lack of a burning zeppelin post today. I'm sorry to say that it was not for the reasons I expected (general overload of work, parental proximity, and piemaking). Today in the early afternoon, the Abigail and I were informed that the Abigail's grandfather, Gabriel Lehrer entered what is almost certain to be his final illness.

Gabe hasn't been well for a while now. The details aren't really interesting, or for public consumption, but let's just say that we are all looking forward to the cessation of his pain, even though we'll miss him. It should take another three days.

I haven't known Gabe long, but the stories I have heard have astounded me. He was in World War II, where he distinguished himself by rushing towards danger to pull his shipmates out of a burning wreckage, which shortly thereafter exploded. Reports of his death were greatly exaggerated, and he pulled through despite serious injuries. Gabe spoke numerous languages fluently, and had some ability with several more.

Most of all, though, Gabe knew how to listen. When the Abigail was but a tiny geekling, Gabe listened to her. He listened to her endlessly describe her days at school, he listened to her talk about the fantasy books she was reading, and he listened to the stories she wanted to write. And he would share his stories. Gabe told the Abigail about the war, about his childhood in Brooklyn, about his life. He spoke frankly about his victories and his failures. He even wore the Abigail's silly knitted hats.

I don't really know Gabe very well. By the time I came onto the scene, he had already begun his decline. I do know, however, that he was a brilliant man, and he loved his granddaughters very much. He made the Abigail the awesome person she is to this very day. That's how I know how beautiful and brilliant he was - I see him in the Abigail.

Gabriel Lehrer was a blazing beacon, and in knowing the Abigail I get to touch a little of that fire, and I know that I am truly blessed. The fact that the Abigail says I remind her of him is an even greater honor.

So, today, for whatever it's worth, Burning Zeppelin Experience prepares to say goodbye to Gabriel Lehrer.

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