Monday, November 30, 2009

Bad luck and bad choices

Today Peter W. (Leif's father) told me that I make Leif out to be some kind of paragon, handsome, brilliant, and so on, and I countered that I have written blog posts about his poor choices and inability to manage his spending, his drinking, procrastination, terrible housekeeping, lousy record keeping, and fast driving, and that I'm quite clear-eyed about the real person my son was. It's true; I have a balanced view of him, but he WAS brilliant and handsome, and he had many wonderful qualities as well. What he didn't have was good luck . . . and in many cases, good judgement about relationships, job choices and spending money. He was a decent man who didn't harm others and showed remarkable restraint when dealing with people who were very difficult, even those who hurt him. And yet he could be exasperating, uncommunicative and evasive, or by turns helpful and generous or sullen and withdrawn.

But regardless of any of that, he was my son and I loved him dearly, and I appreciated his good qualities and regret all the times I had to talk to him or write to him about his finances or things he needed to get done. It makes me sad to look at the email and mail I sent to him, so often only filled with admonitions, financial figures, or in relation to some legal issue he had to deal with, such as the time he spun his car around near a car dealership and threw up some gravel that damaged some windshields or the time he was trying to get his apartment management to stop charging him for damage that was in the apartment when he rented it (and he had photos he had taken to them when he moved in to prove it). These were things I helped him with and we had to go over all that, but there is so little of our written communication that really reflects our relationship, all the great discussions we had, or the love we had for each other.

I not only miss what was, I miss what could have been. So much potential that was never realized. So much hope that was lost.

This photo of Leif when he was super slender as a senior in high school was taken in our old stone house in December 1992 when Leif was almost 18. He would have been 18 a month after this was taken. I don't really like this photo of him. He looks sad, pained and haunted, and that's not how I remember him at that time, but perhaps there was that aspect to his life as he was kind of a loner and had been moved away from his friends in Puerto Rico. He never developed that kind of circle of friends in the brief time he was at Manhattan High School.

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