I recently received a phone call from Tabatha Finnegan, granddaughter of one of the North Country’s most active citizens, Harold Brohinsky.
She informed me that this founder of the region’s Human Rights Commission and long-time local business owner was deathly ill and requesting a conversation with me. I immediately rearranged my schedule.
Sitting with Harold in his hospital room, he talked about how he wanted certain people to not hear from others that he was dying/dead. I was quite flattered that our mutual commitment to human rights had designated me as one of those people. I had admired his passion for engaging present-day issues in his point-counterpoint series in the Press-Republican with retired professor John Middleton.
I often embraced the eloquent ways he would challenge perspectives that he felt were dysfunctional and apt to create unfair policies. Harold never lost his voice when it came to social justice. Quite often, Harold made me feel as if I wasn’t alone in publicly challenging people that seemed to be preoccupied with entrenching their often unearned advantages over others. Regrettably, I never made an effort to thank him, commiserate with him and/or at least break bread with him. I never opened myself up to being mentored by this new-age abolitionist.
Considering all of this, with this gravely ill man staring me deep in my eyes, I had to fight back emotion and manage my shame. Sometimes it takes so little to make the greatest statements. I realized then that I was being given a second chance.
He then shared with me that he wanted to finish a book he started years ago titled, “I Pray Alone.” I remember thinking, that depends on what you must be praying for Harold, because I can imagine we must have been praying for similar things at similar times.