I’ve recently come to realize that you can never have too many fathers. Milton Klein was my third father, and my last.
Every dad brings something new and worthwhile into your life. Milton brought an intense interest in world events—whether they were political events, natural, technological, or accidental events—and their impact on humanity, on humankind.
In this way, Milton was a lot like one of my many grandmothers, the one named Evelyne.
With Milton, though, it wasn’t just that he was curious about events in the world. More than that, he worried about them.
I met Milton in 1986—thirty years ago—soon after Karen and I started dating. At the time, if my memory is right, Milton was worried about Chernobyl. Well, fine, everyone was worried about Chernobyl.
(Now, I should point out that Milton also worried that I wouldn’t be able to care for his daughter when she had the flu. Here I am, rushing to Karen’s bedside, the devoted boyfriend, but Milt and Roz are already there, with the vaporizer, the chicken soup. Feeling pretty pleased with themselves.)
Anyway … Karen and I still got married, in 1987. When we got back from our honeymoon, Milton was worrying about “Black Monday,” the October stock market crash.
In 1989, Matthew was born. Milton was worrying about the long-term effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. He was overjoyed about his first grandchild, until he heard about the Tiananmen Square massacre, but he cheered up later in the year when the Berlin Wall came down.
When Zoë joined our family in 1994, Milton was worrying about genocide in Rwanda and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. He welcomed Zoë home at about the same time that Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa. Soon after, Milton began to worry again, about Newt Gingrich and the Republicans taking over Congress.
And on it went.
The thing is, all the worrying, all the anxiety, it bound us together, Milton and me—the fraud and hype of the dot-com bubble, the fathomless disaster of the George W. Bush years—and soon enough, I started to worry about world events too.
We would sit and have these long conversations about the news of the day. The kind of conversations that would end with Karen coming in and saying, “you two finished saving the world yet, or what?”
We were not finished.
Well, that’s it, then, Milton. You were the last dad standing. I love you, buddy. I love you, even if you left me here to worry about Donald Trump all by myself.