Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Most Unarmored Man

Saturday about two dozen friends and family memorialized Sam Schultz. This was the second such event especially for those who couldn’t make it back in November. Sam is my late-step-ex-husband-in-law, once removed. Or to put it another way, Peggy’s first husband. We were, in certain ways, kindred spirits having been so chosen. It didn’t take long to find that resonance. Sam was a lovable guy and I grew to love him as a brother over the last third of his life.

We were treated to a projection of movie posters from films he had small parts in and his early photos showing him in the army where he earned two bronze stars for bravery building bridges across the Rhine in the liberation of Germany. Sam never spoke of it. Most of the stories told revealed him as self-effacing. How he lit a cigarette during a blackout during combat and the sergeant said, Oh, it’s you, Schultz. This became a running joke for the next 70 odd years.

Russ spoke about Sam’s visit to Alabama for a college football game just a few years ago. With their red Alabama t-shirts the two found themselves seated in the visiting teams cheering section. Sam’s big smile won over even the most ardent opponent’s supporters including the cheerleaders. Russ brought with him buttons for all in attendance with Sam’s winning smile.

Sam liked to go sailing as in yard sales. He could smell a bargain five garages away. Always on the lookout for an overlooked Jackson Pollock drip or Picasso lithograph he more than often walked away with an Irving Picasso…….his no-account brother.

He had a touch of the entrepreneur / visionary in him. About 25 years ago when I had the pharmacy he supplied me with a line of greeting cards he had created. I don’t believe I ever sold any because the over-sized envelope required 46 cent postage………….demonstrating that he was a man ahead of his time.

His spirit of generosity flowed constantly. When the family exchanged Christmas gifts he was always the one with the most. Even when we set a rule that nothing could cost over a dollar he raided the 99 cent store. I have a pile of flashlights, pens, screwdrivers, mugs and even a Norm’s Restaurant T-shirt.
But it wasn’t just things that he gave, he gave himself. If he detected some disharmony in the family he was eager to mend it.

How to take the measure of a man? By the feeling of warmth and humanity that overwhelms when he comes to mind. Sam was possibly the most un-armormed of men. Vulnerable as he was with his sight, hearing and knees failing, one by one, yet he was fully present in his quiet essence. As he retreated he grew another dimension, inward. Even to the end he saw the world absurd. A sure sign of wisdom.

A week before the end he sensed death and asked Ron to say goodbye and his love to everyone, friends and family. But Dad, Ron said, the doctor was here this morning and took your vital signs; you’re not going to die today. I’m not?, Sam said, then I’ll have a scotch.

No comments:

Post a Comment