Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Deliver The Eulogy While They Are Alive And Healthy...

I realize the title of this post is a bit macabre, but so are my feelings right now.

This post, however, is indeed ,my last post about our trip to Israel, which was anything but macabre. And yet, even about our last day or so in Israel, this title is befitting.

Let me back track for a moment.

In the beginning of the summer, friends of mine, a young couple, tragically lost there one year old son to a virus with wrath.

Since then, I was made aware of several other incidents, within my community, revolving around serious health issues related to young children.

Just two days ago, the summer ended with another horrific event. A 5, almost 6 year old girl from my community was riding her bike right in front of her mother and fell off the bicycle as she reached an alley. In less than a moment's time, she was hit, dragged and killed by a car that failed to slow down when exiting the alley. All this happened right in front of the mother's eyes - IN A FLASH.

this mother's life is significantly altered.

The mother of this child happened to be Ate's teacher last year in school. Without getting into detail of her life, that would not be my place to do, I will just say that she has already been the victim of indecencies toward her, causing her needless suffering in life. And yet, she always had a smile on her face, and a kind word to say, and regularly talked very lovingly about her children.

These incidents, DO make me question G-d.

No, not about whether G-d exists or not, I will always believe in a JUST G-d. But I question, what is the value of this incident. What is the mother to learn from it? What are we, as a community to learn from it? What am I to learn from it?

And I know ........

............. there will never be a sufficient answer. In fact, there will never be an answer at all.

Maybe, one day, in the way distant future, when I am standing before my Maker, I will finally receive all the answers to my latent questions.

But for now, I have to create my own answer. I need to do this, so I can justify, even a little bit, why such things can possibly occur over and over again.


I had already been garnering this thought while in Israel, which I will get to soon. It was reiterated for me Sunday night, as well, when I went to visit a friend who was sitting Shiva for the loss of her father. (Shiva is a 7 day period of mourning that a Jew observes for an immediate family member who has passed. They do not leave their house. Family, friends and community members come over to offer an ear and support and comfort in any way possible.)

At the house, one of her brothers was mentioning how so many people come out of the wood works to praise his father's good deeds and character. Then he said something along the lines of,
"It would be really nice if people could hear these things before they pass..."


All of us who are fortunate and blessed to have kids, go through our moments with them. They drive us nuts from time to time. We secretly (or not so secretly) loathe when they have too much time off of school, and we yearn for every day that someone else, or something else offers them enough structure to keep them busy and out of our hair.


We must not take them for granted, and must ....


Of course, we don't really need to refer to it as a Eulogy.

"Do you know how much I love you and will always love you? Do you know how proud you make me? Do you know how honored I am to be your Mother? I love the way you draw that nose in all your portraits. I love how nurturing you act towards your doll, and your little brother. I love your squeal like giggle. I love how you want the crust trimmed just right on your toast. Your smile is my sunshine in the morning. Your off tune singing is sweet music to my ears. It makes my heart flutter when every spring you present me with a plastic cup of water holding freshly picked "weeds", because you knew I would enjoy some flowers. I enjoy watching you turn play dough time into ceramics class. Your eyes dance when you smile and I love you. I love you.
I love you, I love you, I love you..."

And don't forget the bombardment of kisses on those rosy cheeks.

My parents (mostly my mother) got upset at one of my siblings (shall remain nameless) when they made a remark that pretty much went like this...

"I am who I am IN SPITE of you"

See, not all my siblings are exactly the same when it comes to how they choose to practice our religion. And some may have a "holier than thou" attitude. This does not go over well with my mother. And she made it clear to that sibling,

"You are who you are BECAUSE of me.
I gave you the freedom to go to the schools you wanted and to dress yourself in the religious attire you wanted. I allowed you opportunities and experiences that contributed to your growth and the spirituality you were looking for...."

Bottom line, this shut my sibling right up.

But we all heard about it and that is when another sibling came up with a fancy shmancy idea.

Besides for the fact that we were celebrating a Bar Mitzvah and a significant birthday for my Dad (which he adamantly expressed, should not be officially celebrated) it also happened to just pass, my parents Fifty Second Wedding Anniversary.

Oh we celebrated there 50th Wedding anniversary in a really big way two years ago when we were also then, all together in Israel. But who is to let another opportunity go by.

So a sister of mine started e-mailing all the family about her idea.

She termed it, "The Inheritance Project".

The object was, to let my parents know, exactly what we "inherited" from them that inspired us, or guided us or made us who we are.

We were to write a page or two in any format we wanted. It was all going into a compiled scrap book with a title on the front,
"Sefer Hatodaah"
(Book of Thanks)

(THE BOOK - held by my sister who thought up the project)

And, on Saturday night, we would each read out loud our words of thanks, appreciation and gratitude.

(Saturday night in the Dining Room)

This included, seven immediate children and a couple of spouses who have tremendous appreciation for their in-laws.

We all had very different formats and included different material, but the end result was the same. We all came from the same parents, and as far as I know, they did a hell of a great job raising ALL of us.

I wrote mine with reference to "Dorothy and The Wizard of OZ" by titling my offering "Orah G. and The Wizards of Daas."

(My turn)

G. is the initial of my second name, so that worked out well. And "Daas" sounded, Dah Os - means "knowledge". I may post it in my next post, if anyone tells me they are actually interested in hearing my words to my parents. But the point is, at some point, what we were all thinking in that room that Saturday night, my father actually said out loud,

"This is like hearing my eulogy while I am alive."

Poignant words, and so true. It has a macabre feeling to it in any other context, but anyone who was there, could see the pride in my parents faces.

We also gave them a gift. The reason we did this Saturday night, is because that is when the Sabbath ends. At the end of every Sabbath we have a ceremonial blessing with a candle and wine and strong smelling cloves that officially ends the Sabbath and starts the week. It is called "Havdalah".

We compared the flame of a candle or a torch, to what it is we receive from our parents. Just like a flame can be passed from torch to torch, so to is that which we receive from our parents, passed to us and our children and their children and on and on...

So we gave them a Havdalah set. But not just any Havdalah set. We gave them one that looks like cars on a train. Because like a train, we are all connected and although each car looks a bit different and carries different loads, we are STILL all connected and being pulled by the same "engineers".

That is pride on my Dad's face

I know, my family is just chock full of deep thinkers and metaphors. What can I say?

It does not matter if to a parent, or both, siblings or children. We should all take the time - IN LIFE, to share our appreciation and gratitude toward those we love, because, unfortunately things DO happen IN A FLASH.

It was a very moving night, and well worth the effort we put into it.

Speaking of "moving",

Moving on...

Sunday, the bus was not coming for us until 12:00 pm (it came later than that). We had to check out of our room/cabin at 10:00. We had the option to spend those two hours at the soundly structured decrepid water park, once again, but of course I "FORGOT" to tell my kids about this option.

So we all just hung out at the park, until we felt the sweltering heat. Then we all hung out in the lobby. I mean, ALL OF US. About 60 of us sat in the hotel lobby. It was our last moments all together during this trip to Israel. Because after we returned to Jerusalem, my parents, my sister and my family had to unpack from the weekend, repack for our return flight home, have supper, and leave for the airport.

While we were still in our cabin, packing ourselves up for check out, it seems the cousins from the cabin next door and my kids decided to spend some quality time together. Just pay attention to the close proximity of the cousins on our last day in Israel. It will be important for a future post. I entitle this video, "Cousins Gone Wild".

Those two on the left, are just trouble, I tell ya.

Hanging in the lobby.

And, some more hanging in the lobby.

Wow! What a trip. When people ask what I brought back with me, from Israel, besides for some really great lotions from "The Dead Sea", I tell them what I really brought back...

...amazing memories, thrilling experiences and great lessons that I will have, long after the lotions are all used up.

3 have shown Orah a little love:

Heidi @ Tayterjaq's Rebels said...

That is a neat idea. I wonder how many of us will actually do it??

I had to click on the picture of your father lighting the Havdalah set to get a closer look at it. The candle looks like a braid of hair and I had to make sure it wasn't!
Our prayers are with Sara and her family. said...

Wow, 1st of all tragic, sad, heartbreaking...I am so sorry for those 2 families.

Then profound, inspiring, moving, lovely.

Thanks for sharing the story of the book for your parents (yes, i want to hear what you wrote to your parents)

Thanks also for sharing your whole vacation.

The final sentence says it all so well.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your trip. It sounded really amazing for your parents to see all of you together. Great memories...