In My Father’s Footsteps

My father was not a religious man. He had been raised a good practicing Jew in Europe; they didn’t have many reform or modern Jews there; if you were Jewish you generally went in for the whole thing. But the Holocaust changed everything, and after it was over he had no more relationship with the deity or any other aspect of religious practice. What good had any of it been? My father had always been a giver and one who had a profound sense of responsibility to his community, both locally and worldwide. And so, still young, he willed his body to a medical school upon his death, wanting to find one last way to serve his fellow man. Thus when he died four years ago at age 77, his body was whisked off to the medical school, and there was no marker of any kind for his family. We all approved of and supported his decision, but it did leave us a little empty. However, there is one place on this earth where there is a marker and testimonial to his life. It is a plaque in a tiny French village in the mountainous pre-Alps. How that plaque got there is a whole story. Last summer, I visited the village both to see the plaque and to meet the villagers who thought as highly of him as he did of them.