In Memory of Mel Pollner
November 5, 2007
How difficult a task it is to eulogize my father, not just because heís my father and Iím sad, but because what a man my father was! So the task is partially mine to do what was always my fathers forte: saying just the right thing with just the right emphasis and tone---his province, not mine.
But here it is.
I canít capture everything now, there are too many layers and too much depth and subtlety to him. Though all humans, my father included, are flawed, my father was a man of uncommon virtue. So many qualities he possessed in almost perfect mixture: his warmth, his gentleness, his humor, his intellect, his artistic sense, his unceasing reflection and introspection, his cultural sophistication, his civility, his dignity, his humility, his humanity.
And under all of these enviable qualities there was something else underneath it all---an essential core of fundamental goodness that just pervaded his very being. I always knew he possessed it and since I was very young, I have basked in its glow. And I must tell you all that even in his final living moments with my family surrounding him with our love, his goodness was glowing as brightly and brilliantly as ever before.
Iíve always taken so much pleasure in the fact that people always seem to understand what a special person my dad is. He poured himself and all of his wonderful qualities into every human interaction---be it one of his lectures or an article, a graduation ceremony, a toast, a passing conversation. What a lucky boy, and a lucky family, because in our most private moments, those qualities were lavished upon us. And I can say, we never took it for granted.
Now, since he is gone, my family takes so much comfort in knowing that you all felt so strongly for my father too, that you cherished his company and so enjoyed his presence and personality, just as we did.
I want to conclude this by reading you something I wrote and read to my dad three weeks ago on his 67th birthday:
You are this family. I think about the blessed life we've had together, the incredible upbringing I've had, the love, the boundless love, warmth and tenderness in your eyes and embrace.
I'm proud of you. I've always been proud to be your son. I always think about how lucky I am to have you as my father and best friend. To be surrounded by and have as part of me your care, judgment, and wonderful humor, what a blessing.
I remember everything. I remember the advice you've given me, I've internalized most of it. Some of the most important things you've taught me, you have never told me, but I have learned it from watching you in the world. You are a human being of incredible dignity and strength. You continue to be that person at this very moment. I will aspire every day of my life to live up to this standard which you have set; to be in the world with your kindness and intelligence. 20 years from now you will be in my thoughts daily and I will love you as much and as strongly as I do right now. I will tell my children so much about you and they will love you too.
And screw the New Yorker, they wouldn't know a great caption if it hit them in the funny bone.
Your forever adoring and grateful son,