My daddy didn’t turn 49

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Your tribute to your father is touching. Although I do not follow any particular rituals in the mourning of my father, something I have done for nearly 60 years, I find that every milestone crossed is accompanied by the thought: I wish he could have known ______, or experienced _______, or that we could have shared _____. His death, and the circumstances surrounding his death were formative to who I grew to be as a person. The pain of losing him never goes away completely, and I know by now that it never will.

Cherish your memories and be thankful you have them.

Today Papa did not turn 73

The skeptic's kaddish

Today is Papa’s birthday.

In Jewish tradition, we tend to commemorate the dates (on the Hebrew calendar) of our loved ones’ deaths, rather than their birthdays. Same goes for historic figures like our Jewish sages of the many centuries.

Generally, as somebody who deeply appreciates and respects his people’s traditions, I tend to think of them as frameworks for expression of human experiences. I don’t believe that they were designed by or mandated by God, but I do believe that they reflect and are the culmination of many, many centuries of Jewish wisdom.

That’s how I approached my year of mourning, following Papa’s death.

But the truth is that I often find our traditions to be… lacking? No, not quite lacking… insufficient? At least – insufficient for me. The practice of reciting the mourner’s kaddish on a daily basis during the first year of mourning for a parent was –…

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2 Comments on “My daddy didn’t turn 49”

  1. I’m so sorry for your loss, Barbara 💔

    • Thank you, Ben. When I see the picture of your father (who appears to have looked at life with keen interest) and when I read what you have written (which shows how much you loved him for who he was), I cannot help but think I never knew my father beyond his middle age (how would he have looked when he grew old?) and I have never been able to process him from an adult perspective (do I remember him for who he REALLY was or from some sort of idealized viewpoint?). I do know that when my mother passed away some 35-years later, the first thing that went through my mind was, “She’s finally with him again. She has waited so long.” (It was a somewhat comforting thought.) My brother and I ended up mourning more for the loss of the mother who “would have been” if she could have lived her life with my father by her side. Barb


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