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Tuesday, May 02, 2006


My Zeydi

I know I promised to blog about my grandfather, Aron Moshe ben R' Shmuel Zanvil, ZTL, a year ago. And I didn't. It's been hard to gather my thoughts and create a coherent picture.

Today--Yom Hazikaron--is his first yahrzeit, and we gathered last night to remember a little and celebrate a little and cry a little. My father did most of the talking, offering memories and anecdotes. Rabbi Seplowitz spoke about Zeydi's inspiring acts of kindness and dedication at Fountainview. My aunt Martha mentioned that Zeydi's pre-yomtov phone calls always came at the worst possible time, but always 'made yomtov' for her.

I have 31 years of memories to sort through. I'm compiling a list and I don't want to rush things. But one thing I want to emphasize is Zeydi's unique simchas hachaim - joi de vive - joy of life. I've never met anyone else quite like him. Even in his 70s and 80s, he played ball, rode bikes, jumped rope, sunbathed, learned, shmoozed, and just did everything with joy and gratitude to Hashem and constant good cheer. He was always upbeat. When he was recovering from heart surgery and starting to walk again, he said, "I'm just walking down the hall, and with every single step I'm singing 'odeh la'kel' - 'thanks to God.'"

And he loved everyone - and gave of himself so freely. Just walking down the street, he'd greet every passerby, usually by name, but always with love.

Only a few hours before he passed away, he greeted one of the ER doctors with a warm "sholom aleichem." It was hard-coded into his system to be outgoing and friendly. It was his autopilot.

My mother-in-law said, "He's the happiest man I've ever met."

He was very active, far more than his peers, I think. When I was 7 or 8, and he was 67 or 68, he taught me how to climb a tree. A year or two later, he took me sledding for the first time. He played softball with me. He loved to sing, even though his pitch wasn't 100% perfect. He loved to learn, and he moved heaven and earth, literally, to travel to Washington Heights every week to hear R' Perlow's parsha shiur. He would love to hear divrei torah, from me, from my siblings and cousins. He loved to daven with us. He loved to 'shep nachas' from us. We were his tachshitim - his adornments. His dividends.

I could go on and on. I could talk about all the hurt, needy people--adults and children--he counseled and helped. I could talk about all the other kids who considered him their Zeydi. And I haven't even mentioned my grandmother, AH, yet. {sigh}

What's there to say? Maybe I should write a book. Or a lengthier essay. I don't know. I just know that he's not here, and we miss him.

May his memory be a blessing. May he advocate for us all. And may we all merit to see him again, when death is consumed forever and Hashem wipes the tears off every face.

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