"Stewart, I was in a concentration camp. I barely spoke English. There had been some legal problem at one point, I think. It was a misunderstanding."
"'Misunderstanding'? This says they wanted to send him to prison."
"Stewart, I met your father, I married your father, I came here with him in 1946. From this you can see that he did not go to prison."
"But why didn't he mention this to me? I covered every major criminal case in Kindle County for twenty years, Mom. I talked to him about half of those trials. Wouldn't you think at some point he'd have let on that he was once a criminal defendant himself?"
"I imagine he was embarrassed, Stewart. A father wants his son's admiration."
For some reason this response was more frustrating than anything yet. If my father was ever concerned about my opinion of him, it had eluded me. Pushed again toward tears, I sputtered out my enduring lament. He was such a goddamn crypt of a human being! How could Dad have lived and died without letting me really know him?
There was never a second in my life when I have doubted my mother's sympathies. I know she wished I'd grown up a bit more like my father, with a better damper on my emotions, but I could see her absorb my feelings in a mom's way, as if soaked up from the root. She emitted a freighted Old World sigh.
"Your father," she said, stopping to pick a speck of sugar off her tongue and to reconsider her words. Then, she granted the only acknowledgment she ever has of what I faced with him. "Stewart," she said, "your father sometimes had a difficult relationship with himself."
Excerpt from Ordinary Heroes by Scott Turow. Copyright 2005 by Scott Turow. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC in 2005. All rights reserved. Visitors to this web site are warned that this work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.
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