Tonight begins the 25th of the Hebrew month of Iyyar. It is my Papa Frank's z''l yarzheit.
It's been 23 years since Papa Frank died. He died about half a year after my first child, Jennie, now 23, was born. When Jennie was born she had 6 great-grand parents. Within 2 months she had 4, within 6 months she had 2.
A time for laughter, a time for tears. A time for love - so much love.
And so many memories.
The past couple of years have been full of transitions for our family. Mostly good ones. The most recent and most difficult was the loss of my Aunt Barbara, my Dad's sister, my Grandfather's and Grandmother's daughter. With Aunt's passing, there is no one left from that side of my family. All are gone. I am the "eldest" on my paternal side.
Years ago, 23.5 to be exact, I took on the chiuv (obligation) to say Kaddish for Nana Marion, then 23 years ago for Papa Frank, then 10 or so years ago for my father, then this year for my Aunt.
Every time a transition occurs I think of them and wonder what they'd say, what advice would they give me, what jokes would they tell, what love would they offer. I'd give anything to hear the voices again, to feel the hugs.
When I was in doubt, Papa would do his own version of tough love with me - lovingly and jokingly insult me until I'd gotten out of whatever doldrums I'd gotten myself into. He would remind me that I was stronger than I knew/believed/remembered that I was because I was Arlene, I was his granddaughter, I was me. And he loved me, no matter what. But more than that, he believed in me and respected me.
To most he was a bear. To me he was a bear on the outside and a marshmallow on the inside. I knew I was unconditionally loved and liked too. A true gift.
I miss you Papa.
This is what I was thinking tonight as I lit the yarzheit candle. May its glow reach up high and touch your spirit, Papa. I love you.