Sunday, January 14, 2007

Remembering Bob

My father-in-law passed away Christmas night, and was laid to rest on 12/29. At the funeral, four of his friends (two of whom had been his close friends for over 50 years) and all three of his sons delivered wonderful tributes, and I realized how little I'd known about Bob, even having been a part of his family for over twelve years. He was a guy who did much, and talked about it little. He believed in service, and in doing the right thing, always. I'd always had him pegged as an extremely ethical man, which was confirmed by those who knew him best. We will miss him, and at times when I call their house I still expect to have him pick up the phone and say "I can't hear you, here's Jean." (He was hard of hearing, wore aids and often had trouble with phone conversations.) My BIL's and SIL set up a memorial website, which includes transcripts of the eulogies from the funeral. Even the rabbi remarked that it was once of the nicest and most moving services he'd ever attended.

I knew Bob as a guy who loved his football (especially USC Trojans, his alma matter), liked to stay active, and loved good food and wine. He adored his grandson, and was always pushing us to quit letting him have french fries. He loved to ski with the family, and was very depressed when his back problems finally prohibited him from hitting the slopes with the rest of us. He was generous, often taking the whole family out for nice dinners. But most of all, I remember him as being kind. While he might strongly disagree with someone's actions, I never heard a mean word about another person leave his lips. I'll always be grateful to him for being the man that he was, and raising his kids to be good, kind, and ethical people. Those are the qualities I most love and admire in my husband, and I know now more than ever where they came from.

This was the first time I'd even participated in helping plan a funeral. Jewish custom dictates that the deceased person is buried before the next Shabbat, so there are not days of viewings and the like. Jewish funerals are also generally simple affairs, as the belief is that money is better spent on the living than on the dead. Instead of flowers, charitable donations in the name of the deceased are sent. But we did have to pick out a casket, and a floral arrangement for the top. As we sat in the funeral director's office and told stories about Bob, and joked a little bit, and chose a between gladiolas and gerber daisies and cried a little and laughed a little, it seemed like the process of planning the funeral was the beginning of healing from the loss.