Sunday, February 23, 2014


I dwell on the past a lot, especially late at night when I turn off the TV. I remember everything vividly. I know we can't undo our mistakes or the injustices we have suffered long ago, yet the memories hang on, pressing me to do something to make things better.
Every day and every night, I work, I strive for justice. But I still suffer from the injuries and errors of the past, my own and those of the innocent everywhere. Like my mother's mother, Dora Feldman, I feel the pain of strangers. I come by my ways through family and experience.
My Pop, George Rubin, taught me just about everything I know. He was a remarkable man - kind, bright, wise and talented. Given different circumstances, Pop might well have been a great public leader, a successful writer. But he never sought or accepted praise, money, titles, offices or any benefits for himself. Day and night, I am reminded of things my Pop taught me, not in the form of lessons, but in the course of daily life.
Pop told me stories - many, many stories. Here is one of them:
Two gold prospectors ran into trouble while crossing the desert. Their donkeys dropped dead from thirst. They started walking toward the mountains in the distance, hoping, praying to find water somewhere along the way.
The sun seared their skin. Their tongues were parched, their lips cracked, their eyes burned. Their cheeks were flaming red. They were no longer perspiring. They could no longer carry the heavy little bags of gold nuggets they had worked so hard to get. Finally, after some feeble arguing, they just dropped their treasure in the sand.
They plodded on, growing weaker and weaker. Juan complained, " Boy! Am I thirsty. Boy! Am I thirsty." Mutter, mutter, mutter. "Boy! Am I thirsty!"
Humphrey tried to encourage him. "Keep going. Just another few steps. Come on." Another few steps, just a few more yards. Juan whined softly, "Oh, Boy! Am I thirsty! I'm so thirsty."
Humphrey answers, "I'm thirsty too, buddy. Don't give up. Just a little further."
Juan drops to the ground and sobs, "Boy! Am I thirsty. Oh! Boy Am I thirsty."
Suddenly, Humphrey yells out, "Look! Look! Juan. Look! There's something green over there. Look!" 
The two men drag themselves toward the sight. And there they find a trickle of water bubbling gayly to a small blue pool reflecting the azure heavens.
The prospectors, shaking from exhaustion, plunge their faces into the life-giving pool. They splash the cool water over their heads, roll around in the clear puddle like puppies. They drink and cry and scream with delight.
Finally, they drop back and lie in the little bit of green growth, breathing deeply. Salty tears streaming down their raw cheeks. Pain. Relief! A miracle! 
After they have had their fill and rested, they sense cool evening approaching. The prospectors fill their canteens to the rim and start heading out toward the mountains which appear close now. They don't dare to go back for the gold nuggets they abandoned in the sand hours ago.
A few steps, invigorated by the oasis and the encroaching coolness of the desert evening.
And Juan starts to shout, "Boy! Was I thirsty!. Oh, Boy! Was I thirsty! Humphrey, I was so thirsty! Oh, Boy! Was I ever .... !"
Pop didn't say so, but I think Humphrey strangled Juan with the strap of his canteen.
I think I'll go get a glass of water now.

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