Ed with his wonderful daughter Ivy
For much of my life I have been around tennis courts. My experience including five full summers as a teaching pro convince me that I can learn more about people watching them play tennis—regardless of their skill level—than I could if I interviewed them for an hour face to face.
Even before I got to know Ed Kalin, I saw quite a bit of him on the tennis courts both from the sidelines and from the other side of the net. The test of character that every tennis player I see undergoes, whether he or she knows it or not, was a test Ed passed with flying colors.
He was intense and competitive, yet scrupulously fair. He was gracious in both victory and defeat. He carried himself with confidence but never with arrogance, and he never made excuses.
I got to know Ed much better when he studied with me for his adult Bar Mitzvah, an event in which he took great pride. He was less concerned with the mechanical aspects of reading the portions—although he did them flawlessly—than with what he could teach the congregation about what he had learned.
How proud he was just a few months ago when I asked him—in the middle of a lecture I gave in his new hometown of Scottsdale– to tell those in the audience what his Torah portion means to him today.
He spoke with reverence and enthusiasm, and I kvelled. I knew Ed would have no trouble doing so, and in so doing Ed played a major role in helping me drive home my major point that the stories in the Torah are really stories about us and our lives today.
Ed’s Torah portion fit him perfectly. It was about the Golden Calf, the idol our ancestors demanded Aaron make for them to worship at the foot of Mount Sinai.
Ed understood and cherished the opportunity to teach that idol worship is much more than bowing to graven images. Idol worship is when we put greed and selfishness above kindness, caring and compassion. For sure Ed Kalin never did that.
The lessons he taught from the Torah were the lessons he lived in his life. And they were the same lessons he exuded when I watched him play tennis.
Speaking of tennis, Ed found great joy and satisfaction in his post retirement career as a teaching pro. He loved giving lessons, and he loved seeing kids make progress.
Ed and his high school sweetheart, Maddy, shared almost 49 years loving marriage together. Their daughter Ivy, her husband Larry, and their twin grandchildren were the light of Ed’s life. He felt truly blessed to have them living close by.
There is something very unfair about watching a kind, caring man suffer and die the way Ed did. But Ed knew well, and we do well to remember, that life is not always fair.
Ed’s life testified to the lesson of the Rudyard Kipling, poem, If, a quotation from which hangs in the tunnel near the entrance to Center Court at Wimbledon:
“If you can keep your head when all about you others are losing theirs …
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same…
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds worth of distance run …
Yours is the earth and everything that’s in it
And—which is more—you’ll be a man my son!