the man stood up and gave one of his speeches, which - unless you've somehow never heard one - you'll know was full of hope, wisdom and humour, in equally inspirational parts.
afterwards he went around the synagogue to chat personally with every single person who was interested.
i was thirteen years old; the man took one look at me and my father and bent down to shake me firmly by the hand.
"you... are a very bright boy," he told me, looking into my eyes with a big smile and a sense of gravity that only a man that great could possibly command.
such a little thing!
it's funny, but back in those days that was something i needed to hear, and it's something that got my father off my back for a little while. through all the incredible things that man achieved, and all the wonderful things he was prevented from achieving by people of lesser heart and mind, through those magical historical moments we shared with the entire world, *that* is the image of the man that will always be foremost in my mind.
oh, great. i'm properly in tears now.
rest in peace, nelson mandela. we wanted to believe that we were ready for one with a soul as beautiful as yours; may your legacy survive our cynical times like your faith survived the greatest hardships.