Friday, September 02, 2011

Forty One Years Later: My, Father, A. Irving Woolf ז"ל

It seems like only yesterday. It was a cold, drizzly Friday morning in Nantasket. I heard my mother ע"ה scream (it was 5:45AM). I ran into her room. She was standing with the phone in her hand. Wit a look of shock and horror on her face she cried: 'Daddy passed away in his sleep!' It was left to me to wake my brothers and tell them the horrible news that would change our lives forever.

It seems like only yesterday, but it happened forty-one years ago. I have often thought that time (on a certain level) stopped for me at that moment. Of course, it didn't really. I was blessed with a heroic, wonderful mother and siblings. I found my עזר כנגדו with whom I had the merit and love that allowed us to build a family based on אהבת ד, אהבת העם ואהבת הארץ. I was privileged to study at the feet of the greatest leaders of my generation, both Torah giants and Leaders in צדקה and חסד.
God has blessed me in so many ways.

Yet, the cold chill of that moment never goes away. Someone is always missing. I miss smiling, fun-loving man who was always there and able to show us how to enjoy life (especially on the spur of the moment. 'Full of Fun' is how a cousin described him). I so wish he'd been here longer for me to learn that lesson, or to just have someone to talk to (as I imagine sons speak to fathers). Not only my life, but that of my children would've been that much better for it. I miss sitting with him in Shul, with his hand lightly on my shoulder. He was an emotionally shy man, who poured his obvious love for us into actions and hesitant words. We played Little League, he was the team manager. We were in Cub Scouts, he was the Packmaster....You get the idea.

But, oh, if I could I could only summon up the memory of his voice.

He was such a good, kind man. Like every good man, he told none of us of the many many acts of חסד that he performed. We only heard about many of them during the Shiva and after. Perhaps the greatest tribute to him was the large contingent of Blacks who he had helped to buy their own homes who came to the funeral and, one by one before the service, came forward to kiss the casket. (A ringing denial of a nefarious, agenda-ridden history of the times.)

Forty One years, only yesterday and lifetime ago.

Maybe this year I'll learn to embody the lessons of his short life to a greater degree. That would restart the clock.

יהי זכרו ברוך.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeffrey,
I remember your father very well. I remember when he died and how devastated we all were. We loved both your parents, and we grew up with you and your brothers. You were like Mishpacha to us.

I remember your grandmother and also your dog, wasn't her name Chloey?

Your father was a wonderful man. He was taken from you way too early. I was lucky to have my dad until April 16th of this year. He had just turned 88, and even though I know he had a long life, I wish he could have kept going. My dad struggled with wanting to stay and keep going to take care of my mother who is suffering from Alzheimer's. My father would talk about what would happen to my mother if he goes first. I promised my dad that she would never be alone and that she would always be taken care of. I have decided to keep her at home, surrounded by all of her memories and belongings. I have 2 full time caregivers living with her 24/7, since she is now bedridden and in need of constant care.

I got very close to my dad these last few years, especially since my mother was deteriorating so much mentally. Dad and I truly bonded, and it became obvious to me just how much like him I am. Since his death, I feel as if part of his soul has entered into mine. We were so close in life, and even after he passed away, I felt I was able to communicate with him, the next day, when I visited with him during the Chevrah Kedushah. I do feel that his soul was still very present, and that he was able to let me know that he was still there and was trying to comfort me.

This first New Year without him and with my mother so ill, has been very difficult.

I have come to the conclusion that it's never enough time with your parents. Even at 88, my dad had so much to teach me, and I had so much to learn from him.

You were so lucky that your mother, dear Betty, was there to guide you in such a gentle and soothing way. She was an Eshes Chiel, and I think of her often. What a lovely person she was, and how dear to me and my parents she was.

I'm so glad you have a wonderful family and a good life in Israel.

Much Love,