The Ins and Outs of an Ordinary Life

Friday, June 22, 2012

Shiva

Yesterday I said goodbye to an old friend, a colleague, a mentor. He was 91 years old. He died peacefully in his sleep. I know the last few years of his life were difficult for both him and his family as he slipped away with Alzheimer's disease. His granddaughters and his son delivered his eulogy, and it was beautiful. It was wonderful (and therapeutic) to glean his greatness of character from the this different perspective. They spoke about the same man I have known for 30 years but with different stories and anecdotes to illustrate his greatness.

Shiva is part of the Jewish tradition when someone dies. The family receives guests at their home for several days after the funeral. The gathering of friends and family does help to lessen the pain and ease the transition back into a life without their loved one. It is a time for sharing all those wonderful memories, not to mention large quantities of foods!

I spent a couple of hours with the family and I so enjoyed the chance to get to know them. They say the apple does not fall far from the tree and that was so evident in the time I spent conversing with his 3 children, their spouses and the grandkids. They are all intelligent, thoughtful and loving people. As much as they knew about their father’s work, I don’t think they really understood the magnitude of his contributions as a researcher, writer, scholar, and teacher. I am so glad I had the chance to tell them about their father’s influence. The shiva was his last gift to everyone. May his memory be a blessing.


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