Tuesday, November 23, 2004
some thoughts about Ron and me...weight and work...the highs and lows of our lives
I called my best friend who had met Ron once when he attended one of our kids summits at the Senate. (He was a member of our advisory board at WiredSafety.org/WiredKids.org and always took time to help us and work with the kids when they were in DC.)
I was lamenting that Ron and I had rarely shared our personal lives. I didn't know his wife or children, I knew very little about him other than his work and our most frequent topic, our weights. :-) We would look each other over when we met, and either comment on how the other had lost weight, or kept our mouths shut if they hadn't. We kept our mouths shut more often than not.
Work and weight. Interesting continuous discussions, and enough to keep us very busy for years. I was dieting or he was. I was contemplating surgery, or he was. One of us needed a special restaurant for our diet of the week, or to keep the lunch short because of our client of the week (or in Ron's case, lifetime :-))
We exchanged names of diet doctors like others did a good barber. We compared and contrasted South beach and Atkins, gastric by-pass surgery and banding, fasting and binging. We talked miracle weight-loss promises, hope and heartbreak.
My girlfriend just listened while I cried about how much Ron and I had talked about. And how little.
He shared the early days with Nader. How he made no money but helped frame the structure of privacy in the US. (He didn't put it that way, I did). He shared how being in the right place at the right time allowed him to be part of nation-shaping legislation, such as the wiretap and government privacy laws. He shared fun stories about other privacy giants and how no one knew anything in the early days, and is now seen as knowing everything now. He shared his legal reasoning and his thoughts about TIVO, new-age privacy issues, the PATRIOT Act and the election. We talked about clients and work, and he reminded me about how we had finally become friends, instead of just panel and roundtable-mates at the conferences around the world. (I'll share that in another post, if I have had enough to drink :-))
When I was finished ranting, I heard her sniffle a bit. I knew that she remembered his kindness to her two kids at the Summit and knew she wanted to somehow comfort me.
"There is nothing more personal with you, Parry, than weight and work." she said. Then she waited for me to understand what she had just said. "It's the high and the low of your life and perhaps, Ron's life too." And she was right.
My life's work is helping others online with problems they encounter with cybercrimes and abuses. Kids, adults, seniors, identity theft, predators, misinformation, cyberbullying and harassment...my life's mission is my work now that I have left my law practice and only do a few consulting gigs to pay my mortgage. Ron's life was privacy. Clients, public policy, legal work and running a practice group, and changing the world more than a little bit.
And both of us failed on the weight front. I lost some, but not enough. He lost less, and maybe it shortened his incredible life. He succeeded in his professional life and given the enormity of the grieving I have seen and the countless comments received by people who loved and admired him, succeeded in everything else.
Both of us shared our biggest vulnerabilities with each other and our greatest successes and dreams for change and policy.
I knew him better than I thought. I miss him even more now.