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JOHN SPRAGENS, JR Mickey Leland at Senate Subcommittee hearing on infant mortality returned the following day more committed than ever to “do the right thing,” as she put it. I wished her well and flew off to the funeral in California. I’ll always remember those big black eyes, so full of expectation and purpose now dimmed, but never forgotten. The pain of those memories is alleviated in part by the memory of the happy times that Mickey and I shared through the years. From the first day that he came to Congress in January of 1979, I knew that Mickey was something special. At the reception following his initial swearing in, he read a long poem that he had written while in college about the unfulfilled promise of America. And then he extemporized on what he intended to do to try to make America live up to the promise of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. In my heart I shouted, “Right On!” From that day on we became increasingly close, as colleagues, friends, and as brothers of skin and soul. We shared a common commitment to improving the quality of life for all people on the planet, especially for the most unfortunate and disadvantaged in our society and throughout the Third World. Mickey quickly put the political skills he had acquired in the Texas Legislature to good use in Washington, in forging an ever-larger coalition in and out of the Congress to broaden the base of support about which he was most concerned. THAT PERSISTENCE oh, could he be persistent combined with the perseverance of commitment, finally made the Select Committee on Hunger a reality. No treatise, however short or long, will ever do justice to the scope and intensity of his efforts to make that committee a force for change at home and abroad. He was obsessed with the poor and their plight, but he still sought to win new converts for his positions in non-threatening ways, both politically and personally. In this respect. he was truly an extraordinary person and politician. As politicians we agreed on most issues, but even our disagreements were personal learning experiences for each of us. Mickey was an intense listener; but if he disagreed with my position on an issue or support for a particular candidate he would always come back with more questions and requests for further information to broaden his own base of awareness and understanding. In short, he was a lifelong student of life and people and I treasured him for that unique capacity. On a personal level, Mickey and I shared the joys and sorrows of home, family, music, sports, and even card playing. I must confess that Mickey was one of the absolute worst poker players I have ever met. Those lively eyes told you what he was holding, what he was drawing, and that he never knew when to fold. And to listen to him explain how he was being taught to play basketball by “a fat, Republican white boy” \(Rep. Jack Fields of Houston, who fondly remembers some of the same crazy anecfew legislative long nights. But what I cherish most about Mickey was that, as much as he lived for the moment, his greatest joys were his love of family and his constant search for the greatest meaning of life, and death. He worshipped his mother with a reverence that all families should emulate. The sacrifices that she made to make a better life for her family left an indelible impression upon him and, in turn, explain the passionate intensity he felt for his wife, Alison, his son, Jarrett, and their unborn child. At times it sounded as though he was the original discoverer of fatherhood, but the sentiments were spontaneous and always genuine. I will never forget that sublime look on his face when he told me that he and Alison had just learned that Jarrett would have “another coheir to the Leland fortune.” How sad, but how true. Mickey died a relatively poor man, in terms of the materialist accounting system, but the legacy of love he left behind in the minds, hearts, and souls of those who knew him is beyond treasure. Oh, Mickey how we laughed together and cried together down through the years. Now I cry alone, because his is an irreparable loss for me. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7