Prose & Poetry

Memento Morii

From my facebook page:
My Father, Marcel Willem Nathans, passed away 15 minutes ago at the age of 90, after a brief illness. Born in The Hague, Netherlands, he attended the Universities of Leiden and Utrecht graduating weeks before the occupying Germans closed it. Rather than submit to the deportation order, he went into hiding. After the war, he joined the Dutch Resistance/Army where he was tasked with guarding collaborators. My father also served with the British Army as a translator, earning the rank of Sergeant.

He came to America, getting off the boat in Hoboeken, NJ. He moved to Berkeley to attend U C Berkeley, where he graduated with his Ph.D in Chemistry Magna Cum Laude. It was through a cousin that he met our Mother, Gloria Janet Harris (1922 – 1988),  in San Francisco. They were married for nearly 40 years before she passed. They’re back together, now.

I love you, daddy. I always will Kiss mom and grandma for me.
Marcel Willem Nathans – April 16, 1922 – December 8, 2012.

There is so much more to my father’s life than that short description. He played soccer at Leiden, though you’d never have known it. Dad wasn’t too much into sports. He played the piano. Quite well. He was a jokester. a good cook. He wrote a first year college chemistry text that is still in use, titled Elementary Chemistry. He worked with Edward Teller at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. He is one of the survivors interviewed by Spielberg for his shoa memorial. He played chess very well. He never gave up. In some ways, he never grew up, either. He loved his children and grandchildren. Women loved him. 🙂

I’m here in NYC, several thousand miles away. It never stopped us from talking. I loved the sound of his voice. I am thankful I had once last chat with him. The last time I saw him, was at his 90th birthday celebration. yes, there were changes in him physically, still it was my dad. We even managed to avoid a food fight at the party.

My dad, ca 1938
My father, age 16

Good night, daddy.