Monday, June 13, 2016

Getting Soft in My Old Age


"Your father has only cried twice," said my beautiful wife.

"I Lava You was one of them, and I was there," Bec said with a big grin.

Great, my family has begun to highlight my "weaker" moments, all to their amusement.  I am human, not Vulcan, and sometimes I am allowed to show emotions. 

"Dad's becoming emotional in his old age," starts to be chanted.

Flash back to the night before:

One day, I was at evening services, when one of our older members walked in.  He had been sick and we have not seen him in a while.  It was clear that it was an effort for him to be there, as his wife and son accompanied him.   We were all happy to see him, and it ends up that it was the anniversary of his father’s death and he was there to say the Mourner’s Prayer. 

In the Jewish religion, when someone dies, there is a prescribed mourning cycle.  The first seven days after the funeral, called Shiva, are where the mourning stays home, sits on a low chair and accepts visitors.  This is followed by the first month (30 days inclusive of Shiva), called Shloshim, where one moves out back into society, but continues the daily Mourner’s Prayer.  And when a parent dies, the Mourner’s Prayer is said throughout the year.  As a community, we recalled our loved ones four times a year during specific holidays (Yom Kippur, Shemini Atzeret, Passover and Shavuot), and, individually, on the anniversary of the death (based on the Hebrew calendar).  I go, for example, each year on the anniversary of my mother’s death. 

Going on the anniversary, for some, is a very strong feeling.  My grandfather died at 89.  Shortly before he died was the anniversary of his father’s death and he was too sick to go to the Jewish Center to say the Mourner’s Prayer.  He was sad as this was the first time he missed going since his father died about 70 years beforehand. 

Towards the end of the service, someone came up to greet the older member.  The older man looked up at his greeter and asked, “Will you be here tomorrow morning?”

“Yes,” was the immediate response.

“Can you please say the Kaddish (Mourner’s Prayer) for me for my father?” 

I felt that question in my heart and held back the tears that were about to spring forth.  “Of course I will,” was the gentleman’s response. 

When it came time for the Mourner’s Prayer, I had a hard time keeping it together, for as difficult as coming to services was; this man still felt the obligation to honor his father.

As I get older, I do find that things affect me more than when I was younger, so Bec's words have truth in it.  Am I getting older or just more empathetic with age and experience?

Maybe it is because I just lost my aunt.  Maybe it was the thoughts of my grandfather.  Maybe it was seeing another person in my life that I watch get older, and they have the ability to do less than when they were younger.  Maybe Bec was right…maybe I am getting emotional in my old age.