Friday, January 28, 2011

On Death and Hope

I went to the funeral of my ex-wife's grandmother today. I went because I liked Libby, the woman who died, I like my former in-laws, and mostly I went for Noah. Noah has gotten to know his great-gram over the course of the last several years and he wanted to be part of the mourning process. As I arrived I found him sitting with his mom, detached, and sad. Apparently someone in the receiving line told him that he should be strong, this is the first of many. I am not certain that I would have allowed this man to simply smile and walk away. I think I know who it was, a stranger so no one I could regularly encounter, but on the off chance I do, I will, in my way, address the issue. That had me in a sour mood. A mood that was brewing since earlier today. Little things had cause to annoy me this morning. A person who couldn't seem to pick a lane on Michigan road, the fact that my special order I have been waiting all week for has been in at the local grocer and no one called, my computer gave me a hiccup this am and didn't download all my email right away, then I got a deluge, a drink exploded in my lunch as I was going to eat on the fly before the funeral and the nagging concern that I have forgotten something important. But that changed.

At the funeral I watched Noah, receive people again with poise at times, I watched the Rabbis speak of the "kiss of God", Libby slipping into death as she slept, a preferred way of the Talmudists, and I watched my ex speak of being grateful for the opportunity she received doing a simple task for her mom. Bringing her grandmother to services one Friday night and watching the joy in her grandmothers eyes as she sang the Hebrew melodies, followed along in the prayerbook and shook the Rabbi's hand. It was a touching moment too when she shared a story of Noah as a three-year old hellion running around her apartment. Libby first asked if he could calm down and then realized that this spunk was inherited from her.

After the funeral I drove to Target, I really needed a Fix-A-Flat. There I wandered around the store and checked my phone for news of Egypt. I am torn, violent protest is never a good thing. But the people want to get rid of a dictator and maybe, just maybe bring about democratic rule. My fear is that democracy in the land of the Muslim Brotherhood might be much like what democratic elections brought to Gaza. But I have hope that the players will find a compromise and seeing Noah try so hard to be grown up and hearing Tracy's words and dear love and sadness over her loss I knew the world had great things. Then it was reinforced. As I walked to my car, fix-a-flat in hand, I walked behind the vehicle next to mine as the women with two kids was pulling her van out. We did the dance of you go, no you go. I walk around her and opened the back of the car. She pulled out and stopped behind me. Rolling down her window I was ready for anything. Perhaps she noticed my kippah and had a Jewish question, or worse a slur to hurl. Both have happened in this town. Perhaps she was going to tell me that I should be more careful walking to my car and that she might have hit me, or maybe she just was lost looking for directions. None were true. She had noticed my soft tire and on a cold day, in a Target parking lot, with two children in the car, she stopped to write me a note to tell me my tire was low, and now she stopped once again to point that fact out so I would not miss it. On a day that I would have much rather been home doing anything else but standing in a Target parking lot this women took a few minutes to write me a note and a few more to draw my attention to it. I know my response was not adequate to her kindness. I hope she knows I did appreciate it and more so the fact that it made me realize the every day kindness we miss out if we don't watch.

Tonight the people of Egypt sleep uncertain of the future of their nation and people I still think of as family and my own son mourn the loss of a matriarch. But I will rejoice this Shabbat because I know, every day, every where, gemilut hasadim (acts of loving kindness) are being done by everyday people, people like you.

1 comment:

JSam said...

After a day of complaining about weather-related travel delays, this brought a nice moment of joy, and embarrassment, to my psyche. Thank you for allowing us to share in your grief and inspiration.

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