A Good Man

In all his adult life I don’t think my stepfather ever voted for a Democrat – and he lived in Massachusetts where Republicans have long been hard to find.

He was conservative in almost all things. He wore gray suits, button-down shirts, and ties with regimental stripes. He became a stockbroker when he married my mother and only invested in blue-chip stocks. He was shot down on his 13th mission (which made him superstitious forever after) and spent the last year of World War II in a German prisoner-of-war camp – the same camp where The Great Escape had earlier taken place. But by the time he got there everyone was close to starving, including the guards. Back home, he was presumed dead. After the war, he took almost no part in public affairs and was deeply unsettled by the radical changes that came over the country in the 1960s.

He disliked big government, which he associated with the Democratic Party. And every April when he sat at his desk to do his taxes, he grumbled about the IRS and its exasperating forms. But he never complained about actually paying his taxes, nor tried to pay less than he owed. I asked him about that once, and he said simply that he was grateful to have the money to pay his taxes and it was his duty to do so.

He died at the age of 70 after a painful five-year battle with cancer, and not once during that time did I hear him complain about his misfortune.

James G. Blaine

About James G. Blaine

Most of us undervalue what seem our tiny contributions to our communities and the world. As a result, we feel powerless, even victimized. But, like the butterfly effect in science, the lives we lead with our families, in our communities, and at work – all the so-called little things we do – collectively change the world. As I grow older, my ambition grows more modest but not less important: to participate fully and to contribute what I can. That’s my goal with this blog.