My father died on the fourth day of Hannukah, 3 weeks before turning 93. May God rest him in peace!
93 years of life means a full, accomplished life. Three daughters from two wives, four grandsons and two granddaughters from the first two (as I can’t have children), and he lived long enough to play with three grand-grandsons and two grand-granddaughters. A new grand-grandson will be born soon, and I am curious if they will give him my father’s name too.
I feel close enough to him to care and be affected… Not as close as a father and a daughter (even divorced) should have been though. There are things in the past I resent him for. I had sought for other father figures in my life when he wasn’t around, in my childhood and teen years: my mother’s cousin, a work colleague of my mother’s, then the fathers of two of my friends were also a bit like my fathers. And these …absences can’t be erased from my soul. It is something I grew up with, since I never knew a father in the house, and I had to come to peace with. With the children’s questions and wrong assumptions. With my feelings of something lacking when everybody mentioned their fathers in a certain context. But I know I wasn’t the only one to go through this. And I am glad I knew him, even if later, and that I have memories with him, to cherish now.
There are things I admire him for too. He was strong of mind and optimistic, even if he was doing dialysis for the last 1-2 years three times a week. Stronger than my mother, who is 86.
He used the computer as long as he could see on it, when I have colleagues my age who can’t adapt to the modern technology. He wrote his memories in MS Word, he copied CDs, listened to music and watched movies on the pc, talked with me on yahoo. More than some younger people are able to do.
And he was an extraordinary man, living through extraordinary times – he had been Jewish during the Second World War, he chose to be a communist since young, when they were outlawed. He had learnt as much as he could – both in technical field, where he was a… junior architect, I think it’s called in English the one who has only the architecture college, not the full degree, and in the economics field, where he got to be a renowned economist with several books and publications. He had been an expert in his field, prices and tariffs. Even after retirement, people called him for expertises in court, when there were trials related to this. He had talent at drawing, at cooking… which I haven’t inherited from him, unfortunately.
I used to say that I don’t love him, even if I don’t hate him either. But maybe I do love him still. Or at least, I care more than I expected to. Maybe in my own, strange, convoluted way, not like everyone. But I didn’t expect to cry for him as much as I have done it since I heard about his passing.
It feels stranger and helpless because I am at so much distance and I can’t go there now. I can’t be with my sister. And as I told her at phone, words are useless. How to say “Condolences” when it’s more than this. One says this to somebody stranger, but when it hurts the same… there have to be invented new words. And when they aren’t invented, then tears might be enough.
And here… I can’t do anything significant either. I don’t know even what mourning customs to keep, since we don’t share the same religion. Me, Christian Orthodox, he and my sister, Jewish. I had the same dilemma when my eldest sister died in 2003. Then, it was my father who understood and helped me in his own style. He made a sort of memorial book for her and gave me one copy as well. It sort of made up for not being there. And when I succeeded to arrive there, in 2008 and 2011, I went to the cemetery too.
Ultimately, after a long consideration, my husband and I decided to keep mourning for him for a few weeks. But he will be in my soul forever, for the memories we have got together. It is just right. And the candles have been lighted in my house for him ever since. There will be some other things I want to do too. Both some Jewish and some Christian Orthodox, because this is how I know to deal with death.
Some time within this month, I want to go to the Jewish Community when the Kaddish is said, and to read it with the others. I am not sure if I’ll go to the Synagogue or maybe only to the Community, which seems less intimidating for me. When I read the Kaddish for my halfsister, it was also at a community event.
As for how I know to deal with death, yes, he’ll be on the lists of prayers for the dead, together with my deceased sister and the others of his family, as my prayers list for the deads has three rows for three different families, and I would never admit to anyone who might not understand, that the people listed on the middle line are not Christian Orthodox. Some people said that prayers are good no matter in which faith; this is how it got to be like this. I’ll give for charity in his name, according to the Orthodox traditions. Including to a young man who has somehow a part of his name, even if not his sound, practical mind…
And I am sure I’ll find more ways to express my feelings. Probably in written, since this is what I can do better.
Farewell, my father! I am glad I knew you, I am glad we have some beautiful memories together. The hurtful part will efface in time. Death brings forward the happy memories. I am glad I am the mix of two different nationalities and cultures. I am glad I had the opportunity to know yours too, and that you and my sisters have helped me with this.