February 10, 2014

“The Wind is My Enemy!”

god_of_windA Walk Down The Street As Potentially Lethal Obstacle Course

In the last few years of his life, when Al Ackerman was living with us, he had become very frail. A combination of a foot injury from a decade before that never quite healed, along with declining strength and high blood pressure, increasingly made very minor tasks difficult. A walk up the street (3 blocks) from our house in Charles Village to Eddies Super Market on a blustery day was an incredible task for him, and sometimes Ackerman could be seen holding onto a tree or street sign for dear life. In other words, a very trying time for him, as he slowly lost mobility and the ability to keep his usual routines.

During this period, Ackerman processed the experience with characteristic black humor. Almost every day I would come home and see him, and at some point in the conversation he would say, usually more than once, “John, you know, the wind is my enemy.” Always chuckling to himself–as if the joke was on him. This became a kind of repetitive mantra of those last years in Baltimore—a time when he probably should have had additional assistance to do his shopping, though he insisted on doing most things himself up till the very last days in Baltimore.

The wind, on the other hand, never had a feeling about it.

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