My dad is 85 and grew up in the Wrigleyville area. In 1945, when the Cubs were last in the World Series, my dad didn't have the ability to buy a ticket, running a newspaper route for spending money. Rather than listen to the game on the radio, he found his way inside the stadium to take in a World Series game (somehow getting past the gate attendants).
71 years later, my dad and I went to see the Cubs clinch a World Series berth. My Dad was euphoric and we were able to truly enjoy the history being made together. Even though I strayed and became a Sox fan, we were able to truly be "in the moment" together and share a memory for a lifetime.
He is an incredible dad, stood by my mom every step of the way during a prolonged illness, and a grandfather that is incredibly close with all his grandkids, teaching great lessons along the way. We are all #blessed that he is in our lives and I feel blessed to have shared this great moment with him.
When I power up my computer, I see today’s date, October 21st, and smile. Though he’s been gone for almost 20 years, today is my grandfather’s birthday. Grampa (technically spelled wrong, but right for us) would have been 114 years old today. By his definition though, the moment he’d have turned 114, he’d be “going on 115.” Grampa Irving always focused forward, no looking back for him.
As his only granddaughter, I was always known as Honey Darling. My brother, of course, was his “Pal.” Grampa was engaged in everything we did—and it didn’t stop there. He paid close attention to the world around him, too. Were he alive today, he’d have flipped vigorously between this week’s debate and the various baseball games, eager to see them all—with a definite point of view on each. (Provided, of course, he could have worked the remote; handy he was not.)
He did have enormous respect for education, educators, and the freedom to spend time learning, all traits he passed down to us with robust storytelling verve on a very regular basis. He thought, and rightly so, that having the chance to receive an education was the highest form of privilege and blessing—a gift never to be wasted.
In 1919, Grampa was headed to college, a first for his family. He had been accepted to Wharton, but he never got there. His father died suddenly and he had to run the family’s chicken and egg store. Formal education no longer an option, he decided to learn wherever he went. This explains why he taught us to value our education; he lost his chance—and his father—in one swift move. His eyes would sparkle wistfully when he retold the story, always ending with a strong reminder to treasure each chance to learn and to look for the blessings of learning everywhere.
#blessed? That hardly scratches the surface. He’d have thought this #blessed/Chai Challenge theme was all pretty wonderful, even if to him, # was an adding machine key or that funny button on the phone. I’m very blessed that Grampa is still teaching me, even now. I am also blessed to be able to share his stories and words of wisdom with our daughters, building rich memories, legacy, and instilling strong values. “Always do the right things, right, Honey Darling. You know. I know you do.” I do.
Tonight, as I stand at the back of the sanctuary and put that little stone from Israel on that little ledge of Rabbi Steve’s, I’ll count the blessing of memory once again. While I’ll think of every family member memorialized on that back wall, tonight will mostly be Grampa’s night. After all, he did like top billing on his birthday. Nu?
Several years ago I wanted desperately to learn where within me forgiveness is born. I wanted to know not where I find the courage to say I forgive, and sort of neutralize it, I wanted to actually forgive so that my heart had no memory to stop me from being love, without reservation, to this person. To everyone!
Over these past 20 years, I’ve come to believe that we are manifestations of God in human form and that our life’s purpose is to be portals of God’s love as energy in our life. Anger, resentment, jealousy, do not fit into that knowing. Each of these feelings definitely disempowers me! I get tight physically and emotionally, and instead of living the moment and finding a response within that presence, I’m fighting an old battle in my head. Alone!
I took the problem into my prayer and meditation one day. And from within my breaking heart came this understanding:
At any given moment in time we are precisely that which we are. We are and can be no more nor can we be less. We are that which we are. Regardless of any other person’s observation of us, or perception that another option existed that I should/could have chosen, the fact of my choosing shows that to be my cumulative understanding at that moment in time.
Contemplating that truth, that we can only be that which we are at any given moment, is where I found forgiveness for others as well as for myself to be born. And that understanding invites the knowing that from within the reality of our present limitation, infinite potential exists. And the act of creation itself, begins.
Today, on Rosh Hashanah 5777, it is the acceptance of this indescribably glorious gift of our capacity to Be Love, day after day after day during our lives, that begs T'shuvah.
For this gleaning of truth and beauty and love, and the question it has left me asking of each question I encounter, "What would love Do?"