Friday, May 11, 2012
Growing Up without Grandfather
I left home at age 16 to study in La Plata, a university town 60 km from Buenos Aires. After graduation, I accepted a job in a faraway province and then left for a well-paid job in oil-rich Nigeria. There were no old people in my family, they were killed by the Nazis. I never shared a household with old (say forty plus) people, and I never had friends or relations of the age I am now. Thus, having reached my advanced age, I have no models how I should be or behave. In my daily life, in the university and in the water consulting business, I never meet people of my age. It is accepted that boys need to have a role male model to grow up and develope a healthy personality, but what about old men? What about an old man like me who never had an old role model in his life? We are made to live in multigenerational extended families, like the schtetl old Jews sitting on the shul bench debating the fine points of Rambam (Tevye's song "If I was a Rich Man") but the Nazis and Western modernity stole that from my life and I am missing it.