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FS ompa,dr e go ehev nrs App, is still b alone xr stacks r1 notes; to: enter` the He would do anything to help any of us. This was the inner muscle of the community the Observer has become. He’d lend you his car, drive you to an interview you were late for, meet you at the airport, on deadline get you a hamburger, make the coffee, anything. You tried not to ask him to help because you knew he would do whatever you asked. The Observer was his home, his homefulness. It was his abode, where he abided. Here, he believed, was truth and seeking truth and the will to goodness and justice. He was our monk, really, our father superior, in our floating monastery. Yet Cliff was always homeless. Around him in his single rooms, or in the corners at the Observer where he slept when he could not afford a place of his own, there was always the makeshift of a crewman’s bunk on ship. Perhaps he saw his life as a journey on such a ship, sailing because the so. ciety on land was hostile to his private self, and he’d rather not land. Perhaps he could help those of us with him on the ship make something we could take back onto that land, to make it kinder. Cliff and I were the kind of friends who, in a fight, would have died for each other. But we were not really friends who live alongside each other in the world wherever they are. My deepest sadness about him concerns how few warm, personal memories I have of him. We acted together in thousands of tasks and daily endeavors, we worked in the same offices for years, yet I know little of his soul. All I know deep, I deduce. One knew him by what he did. We adjourned many a time for Mexican food \(which he liked all right, but really just drawal as editor, I returned to Austin from San Antonio, and the weather was good, sometimes I’d ask him to drive out to Barton’s with me, and sometimes he would. We’d talk out there over the pool, he’d wait while I swamI never remember him swimmingand we’d go back to our labors. Cliff, Cliff, why couldn’t we talk together as people? I would say something funny, and you would laugh appreciatively, tell me something relevant, or say “Ya-a-ah!” in a way that meant you got it; but never deeper. In your heart, perhaps, you were terribly sad, even though you realized yourself in your life for the Observer. You sought your happiness where you chose to, but you did not find it. Society, human nature, were not ready for you, did not know you, would not see you, only those who loved you did and could, and so you stayed with us. He never wanted credit. He never wanted even to be named, among those being thanked. He was afraid. His ethics were contained within him and he did not want to risk abuse to get attention he didn’t need. I always asked him, before an occasion, if I could thank him publicly, and he always said no. So in October 1994, at the 40th Anniversary Observer banquet, I didn’t ask him, I said what I said: If he had been paid for the hours he worked at the going rate for a business manager of a publication in the commercial world, the Observer would have been bankrupt in a year. Rather than let it become bankrupt he went bankrupt himself He hocked his heart for it. He never, never, never quit. He held creditors at bay. He covered for me, for Willie and Bob, and then for all of us. He understood and accepted our different natures. He gave his gift and is giving the gift of his life to what he hopes for and believes in, as that came into his powerful hands in the form of the Texas Observer. Without Cliff the Observer would have been dead and gone. He is a Hercules of moral idealism. Afterward, as people were milling about and leaving, I encountered him on the banquet floor and asked, in unspoken reference to having risked his privacy, “Cliff, was it all right?” With a broad smile he said, “Oh, yes!” He was radiant. I have never seen him happier. He had done what he had done with his life and this was appreciated. He had been making and maintaining one of the mediums through which we are inventing our ethics and he knew that we, the community for whom he was the center, knew and loved him deeply. He was known and he was holy. This I remember over everything else that night. About a year ago, from my desk at Wellfleet, I wrote him, saying, close though we were we’d never been friends, really, and it was time, let’s become real friends. Before we could, Lou called to tell me Cliff was dying. When I had agreed to turn the Observer over to the Texas Democracy Foundation, I had exacted one commitment, which the foundation gladly entered into that Cliff would have pension. Now he was dying and needed no pension. Instead he was leaving part of the fifteen-thousand-dollar policy on his life to the Observer. HOW DO YOU GIVE a dying person hope? To cynics, you can’t. But if the person cares deeply about more than himself or herself, you may be able to. What Cliff cared about, much, much more than himself, is the human race. He lived in his ability to imagine that what we do might actually help others to have better lives on this earth. The apartment Cliff had rented in July, in South Austin, was better than most he’s lived in. Coffee tables were upturned wooden crates, all was improvised or second hand, but he was comfortable there, in those four rooms, where he planned to read and think after he retired. Now his bed was in what would be his living room, and beside it the bulky oxygen apparatus he used from time to time, to renew his life force. I knew he would have protested had he known I was traveling to Texas to see him before he died, so I used the pretext of an Observer board meeting, at which I was to discuss the Alliancea nation-wide populist movement I am helping to organize. Now, I used the time that I had with him before he would have to ask me to go, to tell him about the Alliance. I did this matter of factly, much as he might have given us, during a business meeting, a report on the Observer’s situation. He understood that I was telling him that the Observer is the same thing as the Alliance, that the Alliance has grown, through us, out of the Observer. I went into the detail that would interest or amuse him. He was sitting in a bathrobe in an armchair, in the sitting room, his forearms across his knees, his head down, listening for some long time. I talked on, giving him the stories and the passion. Then finally I said, oh, something like, “So, Cliff, I have come to tell you that there’s hope.” He jerked his head up and looked into my eyes. “There’s really hope,” I said. He nodded. Time came, he said, guessed, well, yeah, you’d best go now. He had taken more oxygen, strengthening his voice to its own self, and was seated in a chair there, his back to the separating barrier between the THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19