Friday, June 14, 2013
ANYWHERE I HANG MY HAT IS HOME
Dear Family and Friends:
When I was working as Director of the Goldman Union Camp Institute I had to make many places home for short periods of time. Of course, I mainly hung my hat at Chez Klotz in Indianapolis. But, for twelve weeks every summer the hat rack was at camp in Zionsville. That was home. Then, during the winter months almost every weekend I hung my hat (and earmuffs) in every Jewish community from Cleveland, Ohio to Kansas City, Missouri. Those were short-duration homes usually in a Courtyard Marriott.
This last winter our brother-in-law, Gilson, came to live with us for three months. People asked us, “Wasn't that a long time to have a guest?” The answer was always “N.O.” Gilson, who is married to my wife Juca’s sister, Helenita, is a remarkable person. He was here from Brazil to study English at Indiana University for the semester. He’s an old world, even European sort. Speaks several languages. Wears his hat at a jaunty angle.
Gilson and I have been closer than brothers-in-law for a long time. We have traveled together in Brazil, sailed together on Lake Michigan, shared many a glass and cigar. But living with him in our home taught me some interesting things about him. He’s an appreciator (I may have just made up that word). Gilson appreciates everything. He appreciated the snows in February as well as the budding plants in May. He appreciated going to jazz clubs and diners, as well as “good” restaurants and concert halls. Gilson appreciated his first ride in my convertible with the top down, my hootenanny folk jams, and even the weeks when our kids and grandchildren, family from Brazil and other guests filled our house to over capacity . Gilson is an appreciator of life.
One cold Sunday afternoon in March, I built a fire in the living room and we sat and read and listened to jazz there for several hours. We hardly spoke. It was golden. As time went on I asked Gilson how he felt being here for an extended stay. He told me that, of course he missed Helenita and his boys and family, but that (and he actually said something like this) “I've hung my hat here and its home.”
Juca and I greatly missed Gilson when he left in May. I missed our talks. I missed sitting out on the porch with him in our winter coats having a drink and a cigar. I missed being with him when we didn't have much to say, and that was alright.
So, for three months my friend Gilson hung his hat in Bloomington. He appreciated everything we did and we appreciated doing everything with him. For three months I had the brother I never had.
It’s very easy to appreciate something like that.