Monday, June 16, 2008

#5 Fathers and Sons and Fathers

Post: post-fathers-day notes to mourn the passing of Tim Russert, father and son (and connected thematically in broad terms to next-to-last post--written before learning of event). A son losing father; father losing son. Death in sort of the middle of things? Not to mention the irony of the "holiday" weekend, the whole thing seems positively...unnatural. At least in this day and age. (For Luke, the son, though, his father died a bit too soon, about the same age as my father.) We're inured to the necrology of fathers and mothers (less so the latter), but not sons and daughters. Used to be the other way around, of course, in the days not too long ago of rampant infant/child mortality. We take for granted our kid's longevity, unless cut short by usually rare illness or accident (as happened to a child of a dear friend of mine). But these things always happen to somebody else's kid, don't they, or in a third-world country or unjust war. To be preachy, this all testifies to the eternal importance of Lady Siduri's admonition to "cherish the little child that holds your hand."

Apparently "Big Russ" did, and it was mutual. They collaborated on a best-selling eponymous book about their relationship. Sad to outlive the son, but Big is 83 and has had many years of cherishing behind him. I mourn because of MY relationship with Meet the Press, and because I had to learn to like the Russert era. I started watching from founder Lawrence Spivak times up through the likable Garrick Utley, Russert's predecessor. Unconventional looks--bubble/bobble head, ictus grin--funny voice and body language, nonetheless T.R. proved to be the best of them. Behind his Iago smile were sharp teeth (and mind) that could shred smug and pompous notables with e.g. "Senator, you are aware that last April you said..." He has set the standard. Along with Luke and Big Russ, I'll miss him.

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