Archive for December 30th, 2011

Paying It Forward

I guess I’m getting old, because I’ve caught myself looking more frequently at the obituaries section of the newspaper.  Which is especially ridiculous, because I don’t know too many people in Maine!  That said, I saw a really touching write-up on the front page of the Portland Press Herald that I wanted to share.

In 1998, Brett Thomas Cooper was working in northern Maine as a whitewater rafting guide when he came across a head-on crash on a back road.

He was an accomplished fly-fisherman, competitive skier, rock climber, kayaker, surfer and  mountain biker, in addition to his later professional life as a surgical technician. “He lived a very full life,” said Christopher LaCasse, a friend since childhood.

Mr. Cooper, who was a wilderness emergency medical technician, used CPR to assist a woman who had been injured in the crash.

“She was badly hurt,” said Mr. Cooper’s mother, Carlene Cooper of Cape Elizabeth. “If it hadn’t been for Brett, she would have died, because it took an ambulance about 45 minutes to arrive.”

Now here is the amazing part.  Thirteen years following the accident, the accident victim tried to locate her savior.  They had not been in direct contact since the fateful day thirteen years before when she almost lost her life.  She found Mr. Cooper via Facebook, and was distressed to learn that this active, vital man, only 34 years old, was now stricken with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Heather Richardson, the woman Mr. Cooper saved more than a decade ago, dropped everything, and became Brett Cooper’s personal caretaker in the final weeks of his life.

“Heather would say that Brett was her angel and that now it was her turn to be his angel,” said Mr. Cooper’s sister, Brooke Cooper of Portland.

His mother added, “He saved her life. She knew she couldn’t save his life, but she did what she could.”

Jew Hatred Comes to Rural Maine

I was in Lovell Library today, about 10 miles from my home.  In the magazine section, I noticed a monthly periodical whose front cover blared some very aggressive anti-Israel headlines.  When I opened the magazine, I saw that every single article in The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs was directed specifically against Israel, in the most vile terms, inciting its readers relentlessly.  It was on par with Der Sturmer.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, most residents in this part of Maine have probably never met a Jew in their lives.  Politics are rarely debated, and I don’t think Israel is a country on everyone’s minds –  – the attitude here is mostly rise early, work hard, deal honestly, mind your own business, and live and let live.  World politics just aren’t part of anyone’s Weltanschauung.  The only reason Iraq and Afghanistan make headlines is because so many young men and women from Maine serve there in the military.

I was shocked and sickened to see this magazine in our library.  I asked the librarian, “Who determines what magazines appear on the shelves?” and she replied, “The only periodicals we subscribe to are the New York Times and Consumer Reports.  We are a small library with an even smaller budget, and we just can’t afford anything else.  All the magazines you see are subscriptions that have been donated to the library by our patrons.”

I told the librarian that I was surprised the library would carry such hateful and one-sided material.  She replied, “Well, it’s a public library, and people have the right to express different opinions.”  She suggested that perhaps I’d “find a counterbalance with The Christian Science Monitor.”   Um. . . I don’t think so.  Despite the politically correct “right to free speech” answer I received, I am unconvinced there is nothing to be done.  That said, I would love to similarly donate a subscription of a  pro-Israel monthly periodical . . . and I could not think of a single one!

So, readers, if you have any suggestions I’d appreciate hearing from you.   The sonei Yisrael (Jew haters) are clever and patient.  Who would have guessed that their agenda would infiltrate the far reaches of the wilderness in Maine?  I guess as Jews whose parents and grandparents lived and died during the Holocaust era, we should not be surprised:  you can run but you cannot hide.