Monday, April 26, 2010

Dad's 5th Yirtseit

it's 7:00 p.m. in the holy city of zefat. it's monday evening. five years ago we buried our dad. he was 91 and very strong. he lingered in a coma for three days and seemed to be fighting the angel of death rather, vigorously. i hardly left his side for those three days. i slept on a chair outside on the balcony of his hospital room. my mom and i were with him when his soul departed. he was very lucky to have had an observant male nurse say the ritual prayer as he died.

i really miss him a lot. dad had dementia and was like a small child in some ways. he could sit and watch the cars go by for hours and comment on how fast the drivers were going. he loved children and they loved him back. he used to walk down the street with me and wish the children 'good shabbas'. he would say it over and over again. the kids would come running over to wish the old man a good shabbas.

one time dad and i were sitting on a bench when two young boys came over to say hello. dad asked them in english what their names were. i was a bit nervous, not knowing how they would reply. sometimes israeli kids say curse words when they hear you speaking english. these young men were very sincere and were actually honored that dad chose to speak to them. many months later, after dad was gone, one of the young boys stopped me in the street and asked if i remembered the time that the old man asked him what his name was.

dad loved to eat, sing and dance. he had a great voice. he would sit outside in the morning and sing frank sinatra tunes. he remembered the words to most of the songs. he danced like a young man, shaking his booty. the dementia, pretty much, freed him of any inhibitions. he would break into song anywhere and people seemed to like it. of course, we were embarrassed a lot of the time, but he was genuinely, happy and well intentioned.

dad loved to flirt with the ladies. he didn't mind touching them either. this was due to the dementia. he was not like that in his earlier years. i'd say that he was more of an introvert unless it came to politics. he was famous for writing letters to presidents, congressmen and senators. i believe, that my sister in california, has some of these letters in her possession.

dad was a decent an honest man. he definately, taught us to take the moral high ground. his famous words towards the end were " do what's best for you". he may not have called me by my given name in the end, but he always told me that he loved me. one time he took my hand and kissed it. it made me sad.

dad loved to go outside with someone every day. it didn't matter which language the person spoke. dad reverted to speaking yiddish toward the end of his life. thankfully, he had a caregiver who was able to speak yiddish with him. one time, a substitute worker, who only spoke russian, came. he refused to come back because he didn't understand yiddish. dad however, managed fine with him and somehow understood him.

dad was very boisterous and larger than life. this huge house didn't seem large enough at times. when dad died, the house seemed too large and hauntingly, too quiet.
i didn't plan a meal tonight. i am feeling too sad to play the host. tomorrow, we'll visit his grave and perhaps, i'll be up to making something afterwards.


  1. may his memory be for good and the love that you all shared.

  2. This post makes me want to go home to South Carolina and hug my dad!! Thanks for sharing your memories with us.

  3. 凡是遇到困擾的問題,不要把它當作可怕的,討厭的,無奈的遭遇,而要把它當作歷練、訓練和幫助。........................................

  4. Todah for meal on Shavuot,it was lovely visiting your home and meeting family...
    Your neighborhood is wonderful and you are blessed,continue the good job of writing about daily events,think I will start one too?