Sunday, October 05, 2008

Lay It To Rest aka A Shanda

I was recently on a Jewish funeral chapel website, getting information about someone who'd passed away. I spotted a name I thought I recognized and decided to read the announcement and the guestbook entries affiliated with that person. Among the entries I found these: (note: I have removed all references to names, but that does not erase the actual impact of such words)

Entry : The news of the passing of my father XXXXXX just reached me yesterday Oct 1/08. XXX XXXXX was the father of XXXXXXXXand XXXXXXXX, and the Grandfather of XXX, XXXX, XXXX, XXXXand XXXX. The relationship between XXXX and his two children had been strained for past 39 years, we were kids when he married his second wife and over time he essentially failed to understand what being a father is. XXX was easily manoeuvred to disregard his kids, brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces and consequently was always finding ways to not have a relationship with us all. Nevertheless, it is shameful his kids and family were not notified of his passing, but I guess no one would expect any less. Approximately 6 months ago I heard XXXX was not well so I went to his home and asked security to buzz his suite. The women that answered told security she didn’t know who I was and not to allow me in????? Again, more disregard for his kids and for him as well. So, as I think about what our father gave us I will end by saying as adults my sister and I have learned how be stronger people better parents, better uncle and a better aunt. We commit to our family to never let anything or anyone get in the way of our relationship with our kids, our nephews and nieces. With all his shortcomings he is still our father and we always loved him.

Entry: In my time of grief and sorrow I am so revolted to read XXX's son's comments about his father and his one last attemp to defame his good name that I feel I must respond. XXX needed his kids when he was alive & fighting for his life with his terrible illness and not when he was dead. XXX always loved his kids and was so deeply hurt when he hefadn't heard from his son XXX for about 5 years. He contacted his daughter XXX when he became ill about 1-1/2 years ago and met with her. She showed no regard and was completely indifferent to his illness. When he asked to see his grandchildren she said "we'll see". He never heard from her again. Anyone who knew XXXX knows what a kind and loving person he was. Although it was erev Rosh Hashanah and people we busy preparing for the holiday, on such short notice they left everything to attend his funeral. The rabbi even remarked about the number of people who put themselves out and were there. This is the best respect Joe could have received. For a number of year XXXXand XXXX have shown no regard for their father and had no contact. They have always had a deep restment of me although for 25 years I tried to establish some kind of relationship for XXX's sake. I then just gave up. They should be ashamed of themselves for the hurt and suffering they caused their father and now I see they're trying to shift the blame This is something they'll have to live with for the rest of their lives. Everyone knows how I tried everything for XXX to extend his life and never left his side. I will always love and I miss him terribly. He was my rock. He always had a smile on his face and was very happy in our marriage. Even through his illness, he was not depressed. I saw to that. He was a wonderul loving husband.

Entry: We are very sorry to hear about uncle XXX. We wish we would have been notified about his passing, as the XXX family would have been in full attendance at the funeral. please accept our condolences.

Entry: This is disgraceful

Entry: Now this is one nice family!

Entry: Sorry about your loss; this page is for people to convey their condolences, not to air dirty laundry. let the man r.i.p.

Entry: My heartfelt condolences to the children and other family members who were not informed of their own father and uncles funeral. This is disgraceful!!! As a woman I would never allow any new husband to come in between my children and I. Unfortunately too many MEN allow the "new wife" to come between a loving family. Let him R.I.P. I'm sure there are 3 sides to this story.

Entry: I'm sure his kids would have left what they were doing on short notice if you would have told them their father died. You should be ashamed of yourself for airing dirty laundry on a public site.

Entry: This a disgrace to the deceased, your differences should be settled in a cage.

To say I was shocked by this public display is an understatement; apparently so were numerous others among the several memorial book entries.

I don't know this family; at this point I wouldn't even want to know this family.

But I can probably see how it started, why the son wrote what he did. He probably heard about his father's death and funeral and figured people would have been asking at the funeral why the man's own son and daughter didn't show up. He felt the need to let people know; this memorial book was the outlet for his anger and disappointment and to some extent, grief.

It is truly a shame how family units can disintegrate, how parents and/or children can be cast aside, can mean nothing anymore in a grand scheme of things.

May the man rest in peace, may his family know no more sorrow, and may they all discuss their grievances in the next world when they meet one another again, with Hashem as their judge.

Having read these entries, a saying from my school days came to mind: "Ezeh booshah v'cherpah." (Hebrew for "what an embarrassment and a disgrace")

I Wrote a Letter...

I have ALWAYS been known for my letter writing, my note writing.

Each one is personal, detailed, filled with the big picture and all the elements that make up that big picture.

When I spent half a year in Israel many years ago, I wrote lengthy, freeflowing letters to friends and family. They all commented on how wonderful it was to receive such letters, but not one person could write me a similar one in return.

Not that I wanted pages and pages of Toronto life, but I wanted morsels...and at least a couple of handfuls. Sometimes all I got back were a few crumbs. People were busy. Seemingly I wasn't...

Writing letters has always come easy to me. Doing so is easier than confronting a person at times; the invisible wall is up between you and the reader/recipient, but it is not a true barrier. In fact, that invisible wall allows for a freedom of sorts.

When people write thank-you notes for wedding gifts or engagement gifts, they write the same pat copy. I write warm notes intended solely for that particular reader, intended solely for what that person gave me. I've been told by many people that they love my notes, they keep my notes, they remember my notes...

When people lose someone in their life, I write notes of consolation; I dig into my heart for the words that will hopefully touch that person and console them in some small personal way.

I always try to make my words mean something to someone. They're not always supposed to be about me but rather, about the recipient.

It is my greatest pleasure to write letters; it is my greatest pleasure for me to touch someone with my words. It is my way of simply...sharing.

About ten days ago I checked out Facebook to see if a former classmate of mine was on it. I knew her birthday was around mine, and so I wanted to say hi and also wish her a happy birthday.

She was listed on Facebook so I dropped her a brief note, and she responded very happily, recalling that my birthday was also around hers and wishing me a happy birthday in return.

So I followed her note with quite a detailed lengthy one, responding to some of her comments and questions, and also simply catching her up on my life. It was no effort for me to do so; it just took a bit of time as I thought out my words.

I didn't expect a similar-length letter by any means, but I didn't expect this either, three sentences of a total six:

wow what a letter. i am intimidated to write you back. what a pleasure to read.

The fact that my letter intimidated her threw me; the compliment doesn't help pad that bit either.

I love making others happy with my words, but I never realized that I could intimidate someone with I call it "my talent" or "my strength" or even "my signature"?