Today is my Poppy's birthday. I don't have any pictures handy or I'd post one right now. Mom and Pop married when I was in the 3rd grade. It was the second marriage for both of them. My Pop adopted me when I was 34, 3 months before my Mom passed. Poppy and I were never really close before then. Don't misunderstand me, I loved him. Poppy just didn't always "get" me. Truthfully, no one in my family really "got" me, but that's beside the point. Pop and I had things in common, especially our love of music, but for so many reasons we just weren't close. After Mom passed Pop withdrew from the world. He kept everyone, friends and family, at arms length. All the while he was struggling with a lot of things. He never recovered from Mom's passing, and I think that escalated his health issues. All of that changed in the 18 months before he passed.
It was clear that he had been struggling for a while, but things got to a point where someone needed to intervene. I wish we had intervened sooner as it might have changed some things, but if wishes were horses we'd all be trampled by now.
The 18 months were hard. I watched his mind fade. I watched his health decline. I tried to help him keep his feet in this reality, and after a few months he let me. I wouldn't trade those months for anything. As much as I miss him, the fact that he passed at home where he was comfortable, is the best thing that could have happened. Believe what you will after the body dies, I have to believe that he's with our family. He's reunited with my Mom, who was the love of his life. I can't be sad about that.
There's a whole wiki page about bereavement in the Jewish faith. One of the things we do is light a yahrtzeit candle.
Yahrtzeit, יאָרצײַט, means "Time (of) Year" in Yiddish. (Alternative spellings include yortsayt (using the YIVO standard Yiddish orthography), Yohr Tzeit,yahrzeit, and yartzeit.) The word is also used by non-Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazi Jews, and refers to the anniversary of the day of death of a relative. Yahrtzeit literally means "time of [one] year".
My family has always been a little different. Rather than only light the yahrtzeit on the anniversary of the death, my family chose to also light the yahrtzeit on the person's birthday. My Mom and Gram always said they did that so they could remember the person's life rather than focus on the day that person had passed.
Today I'm going to light a yahrtzeit for my Pop. Tonight I'm going to eat Chinese food and drink bloody mary's in his honour. I will say the Mourner's Kaddish, and I will remember him. I will remember him teaching me how to count 16th notes at the dinner table. I will remember his office, full of pipes and eyeballs. I will remember his love of jazz and big band music. I will remember how he threw handfuls of mashed potatoes on our dinner plates once, but never again. I will remember his love of musicals. I will remember everything I can, all the while relating these stories to my daughter. I miss my Pop, but he's really not gone as long as I can remember him.
Love you, Poppy. You, the Biggest Shanie, will be remembered today by me and my daughter, who is the Littlest Shanie.
Yisgadal v'yiskadash sh'mei rabbaw (Cong. Amein).
May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified (Cong. Amen.)
B'allmaw dee v'raw chir'usei
in the world that He created as He willed.
v'yamlich malchusei,b'chayeichon, uv'yomeichon,
May He give reign to His kingship in your lifetimes and in your days,
uv'chayei d'chol beis yisroel,
and in the lifetimes of the entire Family of Israel,
ba'agawlaw u'vizman kawriv, v'imru: Amein.
swiftly and soon. Now respond: Amen.
(Cong: Amein. Y'hei sh'mei rabbaw m'vawrach l'allam u'l'allmei allmayaw)
(Cong Amen. May His great Name be blessed forever and ever.)
Y'hei sh'mei rabbaw m'vawrach l'allam u'l'allmei allmayaw.
May His great Name be blessed forever and ever.
Yis'bawrach, v'yishtabach, v'yispaw'ar, v'yisromam, v'yis'nasei,
Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled,
v'yis'hadar, v'yis'aleh, v'yis'halawl sh'mei d'kudshaw b'rich hu
mighty, upraised, and lauded be the Name of the Holy One, Blessed is He
(Cong. b'rich hu).
(Cong. Blessed is He)
L'aylaw min kol birchawsaw v'shirawsaw,
beyond any blessing and song,
tush'b'chawsaw v'nechemawsaw, da'ami'rawn b'all'maw, v'imru: Amein
praise and consolation that are uttered in the world. Now respond: Amen.
Y'hei shlawmaw rabbaw min sh'mayaw,v'chayim
May there be abundant peace from Heaven, and life
awleinu v'al kol yisroel, v'imru: Amein
upon us and upon all Israel. Now respond: Amen.
Oseh shawlom bim'ro'mawv, hu ya'aseh shawlom,
He Who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace,
awleinu v'al kol yisroel v'imru: Amein
upon us and upon all Israel. Now respond: Amen.