The journey of a lifetime

by Eric Lucas


Peter T. Lucas, 1931-2012

There’s never enough time.

My hero lay in bed for his final journey, the trip we all take to who-knows-where. I sat beside him and took his hand for the last time. His palm was dry from a day of heat and sweat, now cool to the touch. His breaths thrust out in fierce exhalations, little drawn back in return. This is called Cheyne-Stokes breathing. It comes very near the end.

His nurses had promised he could hear us, so I told him everything that mattered—how he saved my life and shaped its meaning, how what he stood for was living in us and would pass on to those coming still, even those just born. I’d make sure of that.

I told him how much I loved him.

I told him what a remarkable journey he’d had. And so it was, for Peter Lucas first met the human road in 1931 in Berlin, Germany, at the dawn of a deep, ugly darkness. His parents were from upper-class European Jewish families—his grandfather was the honcho of General Electric in Germany. His father was a progressive journalist and an enemy of the Nazis, so the little family, Peter, Margot and Kurt, escaped to Holland, then on to Britain.

There the young boy spent years on an English farm during the Blitz, while his grandparents died in a concentration camp. His mom took him to New York in 1947; he smuggled in 50 gold coins. He excelled in high school and college, studied geology, went to work for Royal Dutch Shell. He found a $5 billion oil field, became a corporate executive, ran an arm of Shell with 500 employees in Houston. In the middle of this time he helped save my life.

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Final Move Home

by Janet Eigner

Mother’s left the building again to search
for her husband, a year ago passed on,
says, "Do you know where Len’s gone?"
"Our charter...we can’t
guard her safely on this side,"
worries the director,
"Call in our movers."

We creep along the palm-shaded sidewalk
the pristine lawns, behind the scrawny,
muscled couple toting
the plaid sofa-bed, her queen mattress
sturdy chair with arms to push herself upright
cherry china cabinet to hold the proud evidence
they’d shed the immigrants’ threadbare cloth:
Lalique crystal sculpture, a sixty year collection:
Sister takes the small dove.
I warm the smaller owl in my palm

across the parking lot that divides each
past day lived in her vivid suite,
front door open to clan and friends,

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