Sunday, June 8, 2008

Zecher Nishmas Avi Mori

The first day of Shavuous is the Yahrzeit of my father, Yechekel ben Yitzchak a"h. For those who have also lost a parent, you will understand when I say that it never gets easier to understand nor easier to accept.

My father believed in shalom between people. At his leviyah one of those giving the hespedim remarked that no one could ever remember my father picking a fight with anyone or getting involved in speaking ill of anyone. He was the peace maker in our family and in his extended family. He used to tell people that life was just plain too short to have a machlokes with anyone, and he was right: his life was too short, but his lessons remain.

Sometimes people describe other people as being the kind to give you the shirt off their back. It wasn't metaphorical for my father. A yunger man, clearly frum, once came into my parents' store in Great Neck to ask directions. He had a job interview in the area and was a bit lost. My father, who was a pretty spiffy dresser, looked at what the young man was wearing and shook his head. The man's shirt had a stain on it. My dad took him into the back of the store, took off his own shirt which was spotless and gave it to the young man to wear. He also gave him a bit of advice about the interview and sent him on his way. Someone in the store made a comment that what made my dad think he was ever going to see his shirt back again. My dad looked puzzled. His answer: he needed it more than I do so why shouldn't he have it. You don't do a "toivah" for someone else and expect to get it back.

I would have wanted for my children to have grown up knowing this grandfather but it was not to be. It has been my job to make who he was and what he believed in come alive for my children. Parents sometimes wonder if what they have tried to pass on to children has "taken." Take heart--somehow my son, named for my father, never having known my father, has my father's attitude towards people. He, too, is a people person. I look at my son and I see my father, and it makes the loss just that little bit easier to bear.

There is a Yiddish saying "Gott nor leyit elteren tzu kinder"--God only lends parents to children. They aren't here forever. For those of you fortunate to have your parents, treasure them as the unique and priceless gift they are. Make the most of today; you don't know what tomorrow will bring you.

May the neshoma have an aliyah.


SaraK said...

Beautiful tribute. May his neshamah have an aliyah. Chag Sameach.

mother in israel said...

Thank you for sharing. Yehi zichro baruch. Enjoy your kiddush and Yom tov. I'll be gone all Tuesday so I won't miss you chutznikim. . .