Kaddish Candle

Yesterday was the 5th anniversary of the death of my father, Harold Leonard Chern. In some ways it is hard to believe that it has been that long, as it kind of stopped the world it seems. These things must take longer to process than you expect. He was 94, but would have been 95 that year, so he’d be 100 this year. That was what he wanted once he had gotten past the landmarks of age 72, by which time he had expected to die because every other male in the family had, and his then sprouted goal of seeing the year 2000. Various things had pretty much let him down the last couple of years, though. His body was dried and shrunken and his living conditions in the nursing home were easily as feeble a remnant of what he had once built up. But, if you asked him how he was, lying in that bed barely able to move, he would say “couldn’t be better.” (Both he and my mother had fewer complaints as the end of the fall approached than when they were in their prime.) Enlightenment, drugs, humor, attempted staving off of plug-pullers; it’s complex sorting out what that meant or what inspiration I can draw from it. I often (tonight) feel like I’m still doing it just for my parents, and that someone is watching and judging me as I do an increasingly poor job of carrying out some final commissions. (one of my father’s last admonitions was to remember that I’m “important”. But, was that just to him, and what if he is gone and doesn’t need me any more?). I then think at least I might carry them to their centennials, and light that ‘soul candle’ in my mind.

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