in memoriam

Klaus Dieter Schwarz, my late father. I love you Dad.

My father passed away last week, aged 81. Following are remarks excerpted from my eulogy at the service.

He was a remarkable man. You'd have to be, growing up as a young boy in Nazi Germany before the War.

The original Rebel without a Cause, He took nothing for granted, accepted nothing at face value, nothing on a superficial level. Rather, he would apply his razor sharp mind to arrive at his own conclusions. And he was almost always right. In fact, as he always said, "even when I'm wrong I'm right!"

Despite his intelligence, his abilities, he was never condescending or patronising. He was frequently stubborn and argumentative, in between long stretches of silence, but never used his masterful command of language to belittle or make fun of others.

He treated everyone with fairness and honor. And people loved him for that. I saw with my own eyes the love and respect he inspired in the people who worked at National Dyehouse, the textile company of which he was managing director for many years. His integrity and sense of fair play was clear to everyone who knew him.

From textiles to tropical fish wholesaling to instant printing --- he was skilled at reinventing himself to meet changing life circumstances. But whatever he did, he did well. Better than most. As a chess player, for instance, he was virtually unbeatable. I won no more than two or three games off him over the course of 50 years and thousands of games.

He was a generous man, helping others at every opportunity. He gave freely of himself and his time, especially to us kids. He taught me how to play chess, tennis, monopoly, scrabble! How to drive a car. How to do long division! He taught me many things, not only in terms of how and what to do in particular circumstances, but also (and more importantly) in terms of an overall attitude to life and to oneself. Not all those things have served me well, but more have than have not.

From him I got my love of strong black coffee, German food, Aretha Franklin, and much more besides. But I think the most valuable gift of all his gifts to me was the lesson I learned from him about ones abilities and potential. Specifically, that you can always do more than you think you can. That you can always do more than others think you can. That you always and inevitably underestimate what you are capable of.

He was a very determined man, blind to difficulties. He saw every challenge as an opportunity. From him, I derived an understanding of the value of self-discipline and self-confidence. Even though I haven't been able to put that understanding into practice, at least not to the same extent as he did.

To me he was a "superior human being", a man I looked up to as my mentor and guide to dealing with life and the world. There was nothing he couldn't do, nothing he didn't know. And to this day, whenever I really need to understand something extra clearly, or find the most effective response to a problem or a difficult situation, what I do is ask myself one simple question: "what would HE do?" and in the answer to that question I almost always find my way.

His passing was quick, relatively peaceful and relatively painless.


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Shubhajit said...

Sorry for the loss.

When struggle ferment in the heart then only the spirit rises like a monster. An extreme self-confidence and a deep conviction can even quiver mountains from the hinges.

I like the line "even when I'm wrong I'm right!"

Antares said...

Your father's spirit, I'm sure, shed a few tears of joy and pride hearing you speak these words about him. Only beginning to know you, and all I know about your dad is what you wrote here... but I am deeply touched. May your lineage be forever blessed.

masterymistery said...

Shubhajit, I'm reminded of the line that physicists use to describe a particularly flimsy theory as being "NOT EVEN wrong", ie incapable of being tested via the scientific method. What you say about struggle and spirit rings true for me. Thanks for your comments and good wishes.

Antares, The service was in another city, and I rushed to get there without thinking about what to pack etc. When I got there, my mother asked me to go through his cupboard and take whatever clothing I wanted. While doing that, I came upon a black suit that fitted me perfectly. I wore the suit to the service and somehow it helped me get through. At the service I felt his presence and derived a great deal of comfort and strength from that. I greatly appreciate your kind words, especially the sentiment behind the words. Thank you.

budh.aaah said...

Hi sorry for your loss..may God give you the strength to cope and heal.

masterymistery said...

budh.aaah, thanks for your kind words. much appreciated

Nessa said...

My condolences on your loss. Your father sounds like a very terrific man and person.

masterymistery said...

Nessa, thank you for your kind words.

Tempest Nightingale LeTrope said...

Condolences from all of us in the Netherworld (the Cheesemeister Crew) on the loss of your father. He sounds like a fine fellow indeed.

masterymistery said...

Hi Tempest, one of the things I'm learning from his passing is that I'm not as much an emotional cripple as I've always lead myself to believe.
Thanks for your good wishes.

cordieb said...

Sincere condolences. He passed on much wisdom to shows in your writings and compassion. In you his spirit lives on....pass it on in your lifetime my friend!

Peace, Light and Love, C.

masterymistery said...

Hi cordieb, yes he did pass on much wisdom to me, most of which I've been unable to understand to the same depth that he did. This blog, Cosmic Rapture, is part of how I'm trying to pass it on in this lifetime.
Thanks for your gentle thoughts.