Sunday, May 08, 2005
I was just a month shy of my 10th birthday the day my father left the house-never to be seen again. I remember the day well, especially the last hug he shared with me before seeing him off to work. I always felt the hug was tighter than usual. Later I always wondered if he knew that it would be his last hug.
I only knew my father for 10 years—-half of which were years as a baby, toddler and pre- schooler, so my memories are scattered and vague. But one can learn a lot from the memories I do hold dear. One can see what really makes a difference in the eyes of a child.
I remember Friday nights, sitting on his lap as he sang Shalom Alaichem and Aishes Chayil*. I don’t think I ever felt safer or more special.
I remember when he’d take the time out to put together a toy for me-when he’d get down on his hands and knees to my level, even after a tiring busy day, to play with me.
I remember the day he came home from one of his trips with a special surprise-a pet monkey. He never even told my Mother-he just brought it home one day knowing his kids would love it. Looking back I think it was he who always wanted a monkey, and boy did he love that monkey. I remember him building him the biggest cage and how much he loved that monkey. In fact I was told by his sister Miriam that he always had a love for animals, taking in every stray as a child.
I still remember the smile he’d give me every time I said something sweet and amusing and how the highlight of my evening was 8pm, running to his arms when he came home from work. He always made sure to be home by 8pm.
I remember how he’d never forget to bring us home gifts from his travels. He never forgot what we liked. And when we’d go to Israel as we often did, he would fill one suitcase with toys for every niece and nephew and cousin, never forgetting anyone. He loved giving gifts.
I remember his eyes-sky blue-like my son Jacob-and how they’d crinkle just so when he laughed or smiled. We called him “Ali” instead of Abba** and I don’t know why we did that but that was his nickname.
I remember watching him put on his Talis & Tefilin*** and I still have an image of him praying in the living room. His Talis clad image always remained in my mind every time I stepped into that room.
I remember all the trips we took summer and passover and how much he loved to travel, how much he loved life and having fun with his family.
I remember being carried home gently after I’d fall asleep in the car late at night and how nice it felt to be held by your father.
I wish I had more memories to share, but I was so young. More than what I had for those 10 short years is what I could’ve had these past 20 years. Not having him in my life to watch me grow up, walk me down the aisle, meet and love my husband and children…that is the most painful part of it all.
We always knew without a doubt that he was no longer with us-but without a body-without a Grave-we never had any closure, and we accepted it as a will of God and moved on. Through my mother’s strength and God’s blessings we were able to build beautiful lives of our own. We each married amazing men whose names both have the same meaning. Yonatan and Netanel both mean “God Gave” in Hebrew. We were both privileged to each have sons and name them after our father.
Today, by some miracle and grace of God-we are finally able to bury him. We are finally able to have a Grave. We can finally put him to rest in Israel, the land he held so dear. At the same time we are reliving the tragedy that happened 20 years ago. We have to endure publicity and theories, many of which are unproven, many of which are false. But at the end of the day, the stories will fade, and we will forever have a place to visit my father. A place where his soul can finally rest. This is truly a blessing from God, one that we never dreamed would be and one that my father deserves. We thank God with all our hearts and pray that he is finally at peace in the next world-looking down-proud of his family-of what we have become-proud of his little girls who he knew for such a short time but loved with all his heart.
Thank you all for being here for us and may we only share joyous times together.
*Traditional Sabbath Songs
**Name for Father in Hebrew
***Traditional garb men wear during prayer