We really do participate in an abstract and in my opinion unreal realm, you and I. Assuming that you, like me participate in the financial markets. Why after all, would any sane person read this website if not for that common interest? Who’s (supposedly) manipulating gold stocks today? What is Mnuchin jawboning? What is Trump tweeting? What are the algos buying and selling?
Today I attended the funeral of an extended family member; my wife’s uncle Ray. I liked Ray. He could be a little talky and even a bit of a ball buster. He was uncle Ray, that’s all. A good guy who I liked. He was the younger of two brothers who fought in the Vietnam war; one, Geo, who was greatly affected and the other, Ray, who seemed not to be. Yet it was Ray who was exposed to Agent Orange, who routinely flew a Huey into ‘the shit’ to rescue wounded soldiers, and retrieve the dead and who never bitched one word about any of it.
Ray passed away last week, I assume, of complications from the Leukemia he’d been battling for the last few years. The cancer had remitted, but he just gave out, peacefully.
Ray and Geo’s father, the late Stoughton (Grampy) Atwood, was a World War II hero who has made his way into a couple of my articles/posts over the years. He would rather talk about his love of trains than anything he did in WWII, although when I first met him I let loose with my childhood love of WWII fighters like the P51 Mustang, ME 262 and the JU 87 dive bomber. It was a great ice breaker and Grampy and I got along really well from then on.
His two sons did as he had done; the dutiful thing. We don’t need to go too deep into the subject of Vietnam. It was not a just war as WWII was seen to be. But in the sense of duty there was no difference between the kids who fought it and the kids who fought WWII. It has always stuck with me, the way Ray and Geo were so differently affected.
Today there was an outpouring of love up there in Any Town, New Hampshire. The speakers were funny and they were emotional. Their sense of loss was undeniable. But the one who blew me away was Ray’s son, a kid who through circumstances that don’t need to be covered, had been down a very dark path through much of his life. He was the first to speak and started out doing so by apologizing because he had never spoken to a large audience before, in a church at his father’s funeral no less.
What followed blew my mind and raised my consciousness as this young man struggled and communicated in a way so honest, so loving, so full of regret but also so intent on finding peace, focusing on the positives in the relationship with his father he had been able to begin re-cultivating in recent times. Again, we don’t need to go into details, but I have never but never seen such strength in a human being in all my life. He poured his heart, soul and love out in a way that was so honest, I could only feel that redemption was happening right there in front of me. An unbelievably brave act.
He talked about telling the people you love that you love them. Sure, that is a cliche for most people, but for this kid it was all too raw and real. He talked later, to my wife and me about the mistakes he’s made and wanting to find a way back to his brother, from whom he’s been estranged for many years. And then my mind starts thinking about Grampy, war, brothers, sons, dysfunction, small towns and real people. Then I think about the love pouring out of that church, my own kids and our situations and this abstraction I deal in every day in the markets and well, as the title says, I had my consciousness raised today by this brave young man and others in attendance too.
This is going on too long now. It was not abstract, it was a community of people up there in a town I’d thought of as middle of nowhere, USA. I am not religious in any sort of regimented or organized way, but this was amazing, and I am humbled… and hopefully just a bit wiser and more respectful than I was this morning.
Thank you for listening.