Crab Day

Food for Thought

Today is Crab Day in our family, commemorating the birthday of my wife’s grandpa, John Hill, who passed away four years ago. He loved crabs. There is nothing extraordinary about his life, but that makes him extraordinary. Let me explain.

My general view of human beings is that everyone has two sides, like yin and yang. If there are things you love about someone, there must also be things you hate about him. Love and hate are ultimately one and the same thing. It’s better to think about them as an emotional investment or attachment; if you were emotionally invested in someone, over time, your feelings would fluctuate between love and hate. To put it another way, if some people love him, some people must hate him. It’s impossible to find someone who is loved by everyone. Nobody is universally and always lovable. That’s my thesis, and it held true until I met John Hill.

If you hang out long enough with your extended family, sooner or later, some dirt or grievances will come out about everyone. You hear about someone who hated him, a girlfriend who dumped him, a son who never speaks to him, or a boss who fired him. I’ve heard nothing of the sort about John Hill. I don’t know how that’s possible. Even Mother Teresa had enemies.

He was a fun-loving guy who loved to cook for his family and attend to his garden. When he expressed frustration, he sounded like a muppet character; so, it was hard to take him seriously. He was a social butterfly even in his 90s, making younger friends as the friends of his age died. Like his name, his job was ordinary, and he lived frugally in Buffalo, New York. He was down-to-earth to the core.

He was so exceptionally ordinary that he offended nobody and was not offended by anyone either. In this sense, he was indeed extra-ordinary. But, according to my theory, people like that should be neither lovable nor hate-able. They should just blend into the background, but that’s not how John Hill was. When he was in a room, it was like Santa Claus was there, except that he was a real human, not a fairy tale character. I think he is going to baffle me for the rest of my life.