My father, Antonin Scalia

Forwarded message
From: Ralph & BA
Date: 6 March 2016 at 12:52
Subject: Fw: Fwd: Fw: My father, Antonin Scalia

> Christopher J. Scalia is Antonin and Maureen Scalia’s eighth child and the father of two of their 36 grandchildren.
> This past week, my eight brothers and sisters and I
> have been sharing
> memories of our father, Supreme Court Justice Antonin
> Scalia. We’ve told
> stories most of us have heard a million times, but that
> carry new meaning
> now. As proud as we are of his legacy as a jurist, of
> course it’s his
> presence in our personal lives that we’ll miss the
> most.
> My own most vivid memories of Dad are set at the
> kitchen table. Someone
> once said to my brother, “You must have the most
> fascinating dinner
> conversations.” We always get a good laugh out of that
> one. It’s true that
> we’d often discuss law, history and politics. But
> Dad’s running gags ensured
> our kitchen would never be mistaken for a salon. Poor
> conversationalists got
> it worse than an unprepared lawyer during oral
> arguments: If anyone said
> “um,” Dad would lead a chorus of “ummmmmmms” to
> spotlight this oratorical
> shortcoming. Sometimes the umming would spiral into a
> rendition of “Thus
> Spoke Zarathustra.” (After his confirmation hearings,
> we were more than
> happy to point out that he had often said “uh” to
> the senators.)
> Even when dinner conversation proceeded
> “um”-free, it could still descend
> into another of Dad’s favorite pastimes: crumpling his
> napkin into a ball
> and throwing it into one of our glasses. Counterattacks
> were futile,
> equipped as he was with a narrow wine glass.
> Most nights after dinner, he’d go into his study to
> work. There, he was a
> distant figure, to be left alone to read and write.
> Sometimes when I came
> home late at night, his reading lamp would be on and I
> could see him through
> the window, leaning back in his chair with headphones
> on, listening to Bach
> as he drafted an opinion. Once inside, I’d knock on
> his door, say good
> night, then leave him to his work.
> Remembering Supreme Court Justice Antonin
> Scalia
> Play Video2:37
> Antonin Scalia died on Saturday, Feb. 13. Here’s
> a look back on his
> tenure, his judicial philosophy and the legacy he leaves
> behind. (Monica
> Akhtar,Natalie Jennings/The Washington Post)
> During one college break, he let me write my honors
> thesis in his study.
> Though thrilling at the time, in retrospect I was just a
> boy trying on his
> father’s suit.
> My dad had a rich tenor voice, perfect for reading
> stories to his
> grandchildren — his rendition of “The Night Before
> Christmas” was an annual
> tradition — and for leading singalongs at parties (he
> also led on the piano)
> and on long car rides (the less said about our
> family’s cross-country
> drives, the better).
> He drove us to Mass every Sunday. He brought with him
> his well-worn Roman
> Missal, its pages wrinkled from holy water and packed
> with decades-old
> prayer cards. His behavior during Mass was not always
> restrained. If he
> disagreed with a priest’s point during a sermon, he
> would lean forward, look
> toward my mother, and frown or shake his head. That was
> his dissent from the
> homily. On the other hand, if he liked a sermon, he’d
> tell the priest as
> much afterward. We all saw how important Mass was to
> him, his eyes closed,
> head bowed as he moved deep into prayer during the
> consecration and after
> Communion.
> He was stricter than we would have liked, and I
> don’t mean with his
> originalism. We could have done without the weekends he
> made us work in the
> yard. I once tried to beg off mowing the lawn by
> pointing out that I had a
> cross-country meet that weekend. So he did it himself
> — after reminding me
> that a Supreme Court justice probably had better things
> to do, too.
> Dad loved opera and classical music. He’d play
> conductor with the radio
> as intensely as a teenager playing air guitar. He
> enjoyed the Great American
> Songbook, too, plus country and bluegrass, and in recent
> years he and my
> mother came to know the musician Ricky Skaggs. And there
> was the steel pan
> band at my wedding reception. Amazed by the
> instrument’s sounds, Dad
> peppered the drummers with a million questions. It
> didn’t hurt that they
> played some Sinatra.
> He loved the Yankees. My mother loves the Red Sox.
> This conflict makes
> their 55 years together almost as impressive as his
> friendship with Justice
> Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
> For many years, we played a touch football game at
> Thanksgiving. We
> called it the Scalia Bowl. It generally went well for
> about 30 minutes
> before someone — often Dad — would contest a call or
> debate the proper
> interpretation of a rule. Many games ended with one of
> us storming off the
> field in disgust. Luckily, no media were there to cover
> the event.
> I used to worry that Dad might die without knowing
> how much we all loved
> him and how proud we were of him. I worried that regret
> would haunt us, that
> we’d wish we’d had the courage to tell him how we
> felt. But I think we did a
> good job of showing our love and pride. It turns out
> that the pain we feel
> now is as simple, direct and sharp as the sort of
> sentence Dad is famous
> for: We will never see him again.