On Thursday, May 17, 2007, my father, Al Goldman lost his more-than-two-year battle with an unknown neurological disorder. What follows is the text of the eulogy I gave at his funeral three days later, on Sunday, May 20, 2007.
During his lifetime, my father took part in two wars. The first was when he manned a radar station in northern Japan, monitoring both friendly and enemy aircraft during the Korean Conflict. The second was with the neurological disorder that gradually overtook him over the course of these past two years.
Although he never actually saw combat during his service in the Air Force, he often spoke of the uncertainty that came from his very presence on that remote island base. Considering the base’s proximity to the Soviet Union, and considering the relative isolation in a country whose friendliness to American interests had not yet been fully established, he often spoke of the sense that he would not make it home from the war.
In retrospect, the greatest dangers Dad faced had to do with working on a radar tower itself and not from hostile locals or enemy aircraft. But at the time, the dread and fear were very real and palpable.
Ambrose Redmoon once said that “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” Fifty years ago, Dad undoubtedly found courage in the desire to return home safely. And maybe he found some degree of courage in the pistols and rifles he carried in anticipated self-defense. And whatever fears he might have had — even after one particularly harrowing fall from the top of the radar tower where he caught a rope, saving him from a much greater fall — were tempered by the desire to build a life and start a family.
And once he came home, he never looked back. As his body started to decay on him, he found a new fear. It was the fear of not knowing what was happening to his body, and it took all of his strength to fight this fear.
Of course, the man I call “Dad,” and whom my sons and nephews call “Zeyda” was much more than just the courage and the fear that marked the beginning and end of his life.
He was not one to bask in his past successes, which included the automation of the Army Post Office and his work on the Gemini Space Project. He gave me much to learn about humility and honor.
He was not perfect, and I am not trying to turn him into something he wasn’t. But he was my father. I appreciate the time I had with him, both as a child, when he encouraged my curiosity and eagerness to grow up, and then as an adult, when I had the chance to ask him more detailed questions about events of his life, especially about his perspective on having served his country. If I ever asked him a question he wasn’t comfortable answering, he never showed it.
He gave me much to think about, in terms of how to be a good, fair, and caring father to my children. And as a direct result of his examples, I have the tools to be all three. And I promise to often tell them stories about their Zeyda as they get older. I have a fairly full catalog of these stories. I’m sorry he won’t have the chance to recount these stories himself.
In short, my dad was a good man, a caring father, husband, son, and brother. He lived a good life. And I, for one, will miss him. Dad, your wars are now over. Enjoy the peace. You earned it.