Today was a long day. We finally had the unveiling for my grandmother. For those who are interested in a little more about Jewish mourning and burial practices here are two links:
That is probably more than most of you want to know, but if you ask me to tell you the time I often will respond by teaching you how to buy a clock. I am still learning how to be more concise in my answers.
Technically we were supposed to have done this last August, but with my father’s sudden illness and bypass we were forced to postpone things. And frankly it was a little strange to walk through the cemetary with my father today knowing that he came very close to passing through there in a box. I didn’t mention it to him, but I know that it crossed his mind too.
My grandfather turned 90 on October 27th and today was a day in which he really looked it. He was married twice, each time for about 30 years or so. And each time he outlived his wife, but I know that this one hurt a little bit more as it is just that much harder to cope with things at 90 than it was at 57.
It was a very brief ceremony, we said a few words and a couple of prayers and went back to my parent’s house for lunch. The food was excellent and it was nice to sit down with family and reminisce.
One of my cousins is 70 now. He is Dutch and came to the US in 1961. I spent time picking his brain about his experiences in Holland during World War II. It was fascinating as I learned many things that I didn’t know. His family wasn’t Jewish, so they were not deported by the Nazis, but he has vivid memories of the Jewish families that used to live in the neighborhood.
His father was a member of the underground and as such was frequently away from home for extended periods of time leaving his mother to care for him and his siblings. Winter was hard as they often did not have any coal to heat their apartment and they went with little to no food and water.
He also told me about how his family helped to hide a Jewish man. He lived in the closet and rotated between their home and 3 other Dutch families. He survived the war and they speak periodically.
All in all it was another reminder that history is not always as “remote” as we like to think of it being.