of betrayal was the hardest thing to deal with," I said.
"Your father always knew it would be," replied Jean-Louis
Bertrand, my late father's lawyer. "And that was the hardest
part for him, too. We talked about it for many, many hours."
I was sitting next to Bertrand on the late-afternoon flight from
Paris to Zürich.
"You talked more with my father than I ever did."
"That is probably true."
"And shared more secrets."
"That is certainly true."
"Secrets that I'm never going to learn about."
"That was your father's request."
I glanced at the man in Seat B. He was in his early 60s, wore wire-rim
glasses, and had on a dark-blue suit, white shirt, and perfectly
knotted tie. M. Bertrand sat with his hands clasped before him,
fingers interlocked. His appearance was as precise as his words.
"You knew everything that was going to happen, didn't you,
"Yes, I did."
"Was it your idea?"
"No. When your father called me about this, he didn't ask for
my opinion; he simply gave me instructions."
"And it all happened as he expected?"
"Yes. You were the only uncertainty - at least, that's what
I thought. But your father told me, in fact, that you were the one
certainty. He was absolutely sure of you."
The words pleased me, for I am, like all other sons, attuned to
any compliment from my father.
Bertrand continued, "Because of a letter, he said that he had
no doubt about you. I believe he wrote it when you were quite young."
"I was 15," I answered. "We weren't on speaking terms
then - I don't remember why."
But I did remember the letter, left on my pillow one night. I remember
because it was the foundation for our future relationship. It was
the reaching out of a wise father to a difficult son. Over the years,
I've read those five sentences so many times that I've memorized
"Henri - I don't know which it is, that we are too different
or we are too similar, but I fear that we will fail as father and
son. We have fought and argued for too long, and so I suggest a
truce. What I offer are two things: a promise that I will never
lie to you, and a promise that I will never be unfair to you. In
return, I only ask one thing - that you trust me. I won't ask for
your love, and I won't even ask that you like me, but in those days
or years that you hate me, if you trust me, we will never lose each
And my father's instinct proved correct. Holding on to those words,
we reached a middle ground that was tentatively approached then
firmly claimed. I believe that he never lied to me, and, until he
died, I never had reason to think he had been unfair. So I trusted
him, and it was out of that trust that I came to love him.
(End of excerpt)