Webcast of yesterday's interview on Fresh Air available online here.
After we'd discussed the People's Bank of China, RMB/$ exchange rates, the "financial balance of terror" between China and the US, and similar worthy topics, Terry Gross asked me in the closing moments about the deaths of my parents. Specifically, why I'd written on this site about my father's death two months ago today. (My mother died unexpectedly, and relatively young, in her sleep nearly five years ago.)
I didn't know she would ask this but in retrospect am glad that she did. As I fumbled to explain in real time, part of my instinct in making a private matter public was the sense that people with the virtues of my parents -- talented, loving, curious, hopeful people who poured their heart and effort into the betterment of their small community and the well-being of their family -- deserve more celebration than they typically get, precisely because they have chosen not to operate on a broad public stage. My parents were very well known in our home town but unknown outside of it. It gave me heart to think that people who had never encountered them might hear something about the lives they led.
As my siblings have taken turns cleaning out our dad's house, they have come across hundreds of pictures that none of us had ever seen before. Parents are always old to their children. When parents have lived to an objectively advanced age and then physically run down, as my dad did, it is startling to be reminded how vigorous and, yes, beautiful they had once been. My mom and dad's youth is what we are discovering after their deaths.
Thus, and as the real end to this commemorative series, three pictures I had never seen while my parents were living, part of a huge collection that my brother-in-law Bryan Neider is digitizing from old, brittle prints. The first are of my parents in the late 1940s, around the time of their wedding when she was 20 and he was 23. (His wedding ring is visible in the second shot.) Then, one of the rare pictures of my dad in which he's not smiling. Here he is wearing his game face, as the four-quarters, every-play offensive and defensive lineman known as Tiger Jim. These are people we never knew and are meeting now.