A Giant Walked Among Us.
by Jacob Cohen
(Santa Clarita, California)
My father once gave me a little advice; he said that any person under the age of 50 who says they figured out the meaning of life is not to be trusted, and anyone over the age of fifty who has figured it out wouldn’t waste their time trying to explain it to me.
I guess he was right, because I’m seventeen and I think I am just wise enough to know I have no idea what he was talking about.
But for me, that was my father, he was my enigma, and from a young age I would constantly try to unravel him and try to see how he ticked, fascinated and inspired like a young boy peering into the innards of a grandfather clock.
The reason for my fascination was the unusual kind of man my father was.
Jeffery Cohen was feared by a few, loved by the many, and respected by all. To me he was Atticus Finch and Hercules rolled into one. I liken my father to Harper Lee’s classic character not simply because they share the same occupation, but because they both had an unwavering sense of duty and justice.
(My father often said that he was an honest lawyer, and that the proof was that if he was a dishonest lawyer we would all have been living much more comfortably).
He was Hercules because while he could pick me up and throw me around as a younger kid, he also would address a seemly unending torrent of difficult tasks, and come through every time.
My entire life people would meet my father and be a little intimated, and while my father was always a physically strong man, it was not his size that perturbed them, it was his presence, once someone left a conversation with Jeff, they would know they had just been with a great man.
I think that is one of the reasons my father’s passing was so unexpected, he had that air of invincibility that all great men have.
I remember a couple of years ago, my family and I took a trip along the northern coast of California, and my father and I were able to see the sunset over the coastline. While we sat there together, I asked him what the greatest moment in his life was, and to this he simply said “to answer that question, I would have to concede that the best parts of my life are over, and that’s no way to live.
Unfortunately that was only two years ago, and I never was able to find out what his favorite memory was, but if I had to guess, it was his family and friends that he lived for. If you had the fortune to know my father well, then I should not have to explain this at great length.
My father helped more people in his life than I can imagine, family, friends, associates, neighbors, if someone knew my father, then my father was their go-to-guy. I would not be surprised if most everyone who met my father was aided by him in some way or another.
Honestly if I had to name his hamartia, it would be that his heart was so big, that he helped everyone he came into contact with, except himself, and eventually literally, his heart gave out.
Despite my fervent assertions of the contrary; my father always told me he did not suffer from the burden of perfection, and I’m sure he was right. But this is for certain; for 53 years a Giant walked among us.
And though his passing will leave a void just as large, if he has taught me anything, it’s that in life, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving, and in that spirit, we will heal from even this blow, and we will move forward.
I'm sad that my father will not get to see me turn 18, and it hurts when I wake up now and for a few fleeting seconds think he's making breakfast or reading the paper.
But he has only been dead six days, perhaps that will pass with time.
My dad was my hero, my mentor, and my best friend and I loved him more than anyone on this earth.
I miss him so much.