Tonight at sundown I will light the memorial candle for my POPS. Tonight begins the 24 hours of his yarzheit, the anniversary of someone’s death, especially a parent’s, in the Jewish religion. The remembrance is based on the Hebrew Calendar and not the Georgian Calendar that we typically live each day by. It was on, February 3, 2004, late at night when my mother called me to share the sad news that my father had died. That was also the night of our, Rich’s and mine, twentieth wedding anniversary, the Hebrew date is, Shevat 10, 5779. I will never forget.
My dad was loved by many, and he has always held a special place in my heart. Sadly for many years, I assumed my father was mad at me when he came home from work at night. If he walked in the door without a smile on his face, my Jewish guilt set in, assuming I had done something to upset or disappoint him. The reality was my father very rarely was mad at anyone, and even if he was, he got over it quickly, apologizing often. I think that was one of the reasons he was liked (and loved) by many.
My father was a dreamer, and he wrote of his dreams using poetic rhyme and license. For every occasion, there were poems and odes written for my mother, my brothers, myself as well as our partners, children and friends, and relatives. I have boxes of his writings that my mother lept, and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren will enjoy reading and learning so much about this husband and wife team that survived so much.
In ways, my parents were lucky, as American citizens, first and second generation they unlike many of their friends were not exposed first hand to Nazi Germany. My father was identified as F4 and again unlike other family members and his friends he was stateside during World War II, and the story goes he felt guilty that he could not do his part. But he worked in the war plant in Detroit, Michigan and supported his brothers overseas, staying strong for their wives and families as they faced the unknown for years.
My father’s health issues could have plagued him for life, but he fought through the pain and the limitations of Scarlet Fever as a child. Dad was one of the early heart by-pass patients at Harper Hospital in Detroit, Michigan when by-pass surgery took weeks and months of recovery, and that was in 1974. In fact, almost 30 years to the day of his death. My POPs taught my brother’s and I some very important lessons that included not to take life for granted to make the most of each day, to ask for forgiveness, and mean it, and make every attempt to be better today than yesterday.
In the last month or so of his life, he called his kids, my brothers and I daily, he never said good-bye, but it almost became a ritual one that I thought would go on forever, but nothing does! Forever will only go on in my memories of the loving man he was and how he adored my mother, his D’Vasha, the honey of his life. My father was convinced by his mother, grandma Jen to ask my mother out after they met at a wedding. Grandma Jen thought my mother would be a great catch for him, and although my mother hesitated to accept, once she did it was “farvorfn,” forever! When my father passed away on February 3, 2004, they had been married 63 years and counting. My mother survived my dad by twelve years; she continued to love her Harmon till the day she died, and now she is resting by his side.
I was blessed to have my parents in my life despite the fact that like many, I did not appreciate them all the time. But today as I prepare to say the Mourner’s Prayer, I am sending out a message to all of you, appreciate the love of family and friends. Hold on to moments and create memories to bring you sunshine on a cloudy day. No tears for my father, just a smile of loving appreciation for all he gave me, his love!