Wednesday, March 02, 2005

On the dilemnas of life and death

For the last 8 and a bit years, I have known what I will be naming my first son. Despite my constant emotional blackmail, Dad wouldn't have been happy dieting and was a confirmed smoker. His huge heart gave out on a Friday night shortly after I made Aliyah.

With no grandparents, I have not had to worry about close family members since - until now - Zeidy is not doing too well. Since I met my wife, I have been blessed with 3 new grandparents who I finally got to meet during our recent visit to the States. We took to each other really well and at the hard parting, I really felt like we had made a wonderful connection.

Zeidy has been ill for some time now and has been deteriorating even in the time since we started dating. I had been concerned that we wouldn't make it in to the States in time for me to meet him but thank G-d these fears were unfounded. Since then however, a complication has arisen and the two of us just sat, crying our eyes out as we talked about what the future holds.

Dealing with the circle of life, I find myself dealing with immense contradictions. From one side, I count my blessings that my father passed away quickly, sitting in his chair, having eaten dinner with my mother on a Friday night. From the other point of view, I never got to properly say goodbye. Being able to properly say goodbye however, implies that death is expected, with all the suffering that accompanies it. I know that it was for the best that Dad didn't suffer - probably for my own mental health too. Now I am having to deal with the same dilemna for Zeidy.

The traditional blessing "Ad Mea Ve'Esrim" - you should live until 12o, is certainly a mixed blessing when the person being blessed is suffering. To wish that Zeidy should live until 120 is a selfish wish - dealing with the alternative will be hard for me and harder still for my wife and her family, but it will put an end to his suffering. It's a hard place to be in; a battle between what you heart and your brain tell you is right.

The example that we have received from parents and Grandparents sets us both a high standard which try to follow. When p.G. we have children, I hope that they will merit to inherit the character traits of their wonderful ancestors.



Jack's Shack said...

This sounds almost too familiar. My own father had issues with smoking and diet and came very close to losing the battle last year.

He had a major heart attack last year and a number of health issues that complicated things and it made me quite nervous (as my wife was 7 months pregnant when this happened) but he beat the odds and I didn't have to worry about naming my daughter after him.

But even though he has recovered I still am worried and to tie it all together I am witnessing the deterioration of all three of my grandparents.

I don't want any of them to go, but like you mentioned I hope that there is as little suffering as possible.

My best wishes to you and yours in this time.

Esther said...

I don't have anything meaningful to add, other than that I'm pretty sure that your kids (p.g.) will be lucky to have you.

Well articulated.

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