“Samuel Reuben, Jr., your father.” That’s how he signed many of the letters he wrote until my grandfather died. When he dropped the “junior,” I felt as if someone had come along and lopped off one of his arms. Every time I got one of his letters, though, I chuckled over the formality of the signature. Samuel Reuben, your father.
Samuel Reuben. A solid series of consonants and vowels composing a solid sounding name that looked strong and reliable on the return addresses of all the letters and packages he sent me over the years. A few graceful swirls and some mild flourishes. The thick, black, inky strokes of a man who used a fountain pen long after the inventors of ballpoints assumed it had become extinct. A name worthy of a poet … or an inventor.
To the best of my knowledge, my father never actually composed a single stanza, but his life had a lyrical quality and seemed to flow along gently with its own lackadaisical rhythm and rhyme. In everything he did … in his likes and dislikes, his choices, his opinions and his deeds, there was a skeptical, whimsical, incisive and intelligent originality.
A jar of honey we were looking for wasn’t in the cupboard. Oh no. For him, it was in “the upper stratosphere of the lower region of the interterrestrial regime.”