One of the stock questions asked at celebrity interviews is ” IF you could invite any three people , living or dead, to dinner who would you choose?” The answers vary but almost always mention famous people, past or present, usually from the celebrities own field of expertise. Sportsmen mention other athletes, scientists opt for other scientists and so on.
However, when Terry Crews, star of Brooklyn Nine Nine was asked “ If you could invite anyone, living or dead, to Thanksgiving. Whom would you invite ?” His answer was “ A guy I never met: my grandfather on my father’s side. The only memory I have of him is a mug shot…( Meeting him) would help me learn about myself and where I come from”.
A great answer and one that struck a chord with me. Like Crews, I never knew my grandfather on my father’s side; he passed away when my father was only five years old. All I know about him is that he was born in impoverished circumstances in India, left home when he was seventeen years old and journeyed to Burma for better prospects. There he somehow acquired a medical education, winning a gold medal in the process and established a thriving medical practice in Rangoon (modern-day Yangon).There he lived until he passed away suddenly at age 38 in the early years of the twentieth century. That’s all I know about him except for stories, some of them fanciful, about his philanthropic nature and how his patients loved him. No photographs, no descriptions of how he looked. Nothing. What was he like? How did a penniless boy become a doctor in a foreign country ? How did he support himself? What were the circumstances of his passing? There are no records and I will never know.
All I have is a medal which one day I will pass on to my son.