Dear Michael and Caroline,
He went hunting in 1969 and slipped on a rock and hurt his back and was unable to move or call for help. This predicament gave him an idea.
Establish a network enabling the deaf to communicate with each other and everyone else, including the police and fire departments. And that’s what he would eventually do with teletypewriters, first in New York and New Jersey, then nationwide.
He was a pioneer honored at dinners and given awards and written about in newspapers, and I was proud of him, or at least I am now (his noble mission back then seemed just to be something else that took him away from his family).
Of course that’s how men acted then, husbands and fathers, because that’s how they were expected to act – all business, the kids pretty much incidental.
When my father died in February, 1997, keeling over from a massive heart attack in his girlfriend’s kitchen, my Uncle Ward had something to say. We had held the funeral service and given the eulogy and said kaddish and laid him in the soil, and now we were all going to leave him behind, alone, much as he always wanted to be. And good old Uncle Ward decided to answer the impulse to be profound and wise and enlightening.
So he said to me and Mom, as I recall, “Well, I know he could have spent more time with his family, but he’s a hero to the deaf community, so we should still think of him as a success.”
I would like to tell you I agreed, because it would make me seem generous and understanding and forgiving. But then Ward was never the baby his father never held.