Neil Remington Abramson is the son of the late William Remington, as I found out comparatively recently, and the stepson of the late Ed Abramson. With respect to Ed, whose career was as a Professor of Sociology, Neil commented as follows (reproduced with permission):
Ed used to play Socrates with me at Sunday morning breakfast. He was Socrates, of course, and I was supposed to be the poor rube getting shown the error of his thinking. I guess I was an incipient iconoclast, even as a kid. I hated the obvious answers he was leading me to so he could demolish them. I worked hard to find answers he wasn’t prepared for, which caused my mother to laugh at my precociousness, and also at his discomfort.
Ed was a also member of the Saskatoon Club. He claimed to be their “token intellectual.”
The thing about Ed was his charisma in gatherings. He could light up a room. He rarely wasted it on me, as a kid.
Thinking back a long way, when I first met him, he tried to get me to be a bigger risk taker. I guess I met Ed in 1957, when I was four or nearly four years old. He had a neat 1950 Olds 88. I attended his wedding to my mother and went on the honeymoon with them.
He always wanted me to bet with him, and I always refused. Much later he said that he couldn’t understand this cautiousness. Didn’t I understand he always tried to construct bets that I would win so he could give me extra money? I hadn’t at the time and he hadn’t explained. And I have never, all my life, been very interested in gambling. Maybe that’s why I liked chess where you relied more on skill, whatever you had, and not chance. Anyway, if he had a fault (who doesn’t), I guess he gave up trying and didn’t think of any new strategies – maybe this Socratic thing – and he lavished his attentions mostly on his flute students. The people who bought our house were the parents of one of his favourite flute students.
But time passes. After my mother died, Ed and I became much much closer those last 4.5 years, before he died as well. Near the end, some old guy came to visit him (as I am that “some old guy” now) and asked me if I was adopted, since Ed had introduced me as his son. I said, “Sometimes sons don’t look like their fathers” and left it at that. According to Hammurabi’s Code, Ed was my father. The man who brings you up is the father.
I have grown to empathize with Ed’s position, now being a stepfather (x3) myself. My strategy has been different. It seems to have worked better, and in less time.