Monday, September 14, 2009

Etched in Stone

Sometime between now and February, a headstone will be going up for my father.

He passed away on March 8th, the 12th of Adar, after declining health, primarily related to head trauma and seizures.

I find it almost incredible that in some circles, the headstone goes up within the first month. How does one find the strength in them to plan, then order, then carry out such a vital part of post-burial.

My mother is having trouble thinking about even ordering a stone, much less organizing the unveiling. "It seems so final," she says.

Unfortunately, it is final. Every day without her husband/my father/our "Zaydie" in our lives makes it a finality of sorts.

I am forever seeking out passages from the Bible that I can suggest to the family be put on his stone...something that will epitomize the man that he was. A few short lines will have to suffice, but in reality, countless psukim would fit. And as a Levi, he had his place of importance in shul, which can translate to an etching of a water pitcher on his headstone. The man was never far from his Tehillim (Book of Psalms), and that can be another etching. But the words....
And some years ago, it was decided that my father's headstone would also commemorate the lives of my father's mother and two sisters who perished in the Holocaust. The wording for that is also a consideration; although mention will probably be made on the back of the headstone, do we name names, or are we vague and just say "family"; if we name names, do we write them in Hebrew or English?
There really is no right or wrong when one has to order wording for a headstone. One just hopes that the message is clear: the person was loved by someone and his/her memory is to be honored in stone in a perpetual way.
May you all have a long life!!