I saw my father’s brother, Heldur, only four times in my life. The Iron Curtain, distance and the cost of traversing it, my own youthful indifference—all kept us apart. The son of Estonian expatriates, I first conquered those elements in 1974 when I visited Estonia as a 19-year-old and walked the cobblestoned streets of Tallinn with the uncle who had until then been nothing more than a name on a Soviet-stamped envelope.
There are advantages, after all, in being an old lag, one who has been over and under the hoops, one who has been around the block perhaps too many times. The counter side of having one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel is that you advise the newcomers, counsel the pups, dispense wisdom to those still wet behind the whatever.By Allan Fotheringham4 min
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