Yesterday was January 15, and to celebrate I bought The Deep Blue Good-by by John D. MacDonald and watched The A-Team movie with the husband. Huh? Yes, because yesterday was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday. Huh? Yes, because MLK was born on the exact day as my dad. I used to send Dad birthday cards wishing happy birthday to both him and MLK and congratulating him on living longer. It’s one of the few birthdays of people, living or dead, that really continues to resonate with me.
I think it is even fair to consider the two of them together. MLK had a historic, lasting impact on society. How much more would he have accomplished had he not died so young? If he had not chosen his path, surely someone else would have helped lead this country to greater racial equality. My dad was a generally great, stand-up sort of guy. I like to think that maybe he was just important within the much smaller society that he impacted. And, fortunately, we got to have him around a lot longer. Without him, I wouldn’t even be here; that’s pretty important to me. Plenty of flaws in both men, but they both lived their lives with good intention.
I’ve previously blogged about the A-Team movie and how much I love it and associate it with my dad, so I won’t repeat myself except to add that I can’t believe that Liam Neeson actually agreed to play Hannibal Smith in this movie. (But I am so glad he did.) My dad was the person who turned me on to the Travis McGee novels by MacDonald which are now being re-released by Random House. The Deep Blue Good-by is the first one and the husband and I decided we had to own it and read it. Again.I know that there are lots of great detective series, but Travis McGee is for me the first and the best. In the introduction, Lee Child writes:
These two angles show up everywhere in his novels: the need to — maybe reluctantly, possibly even grumpily — stand up and be counted on behalf of the weak, helpless, and downtrodden.
But the good knight’s armor was always tarnished and rusted. The fight was never easy and, one feels, never actually winnable. But it had to be waged.
McGee is a quiet man, internally bewildered by and raging at what passes for modern progress, externally happy merely to be varnishing the decks of his houseboat and polishing its brass, but always ready to saddle up and ride off in the service of those who need and deserve his help.
Words that might, at times, also describe MLK and Dad. There are lots of ways the daughters can learn about MLK. It’s much harder for them to learn about their grandfather. I’ll be passing along The Deep Blue Good-by; I think Travis McGee might have something to teach them.