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Thought for the Day: L'zecher Nishmas Aaron Dovid ben Yitzchak

I don't use the expression, "I'll never forget ...", because umm... well... darn, I had a good reason; really!  But if I did use it, I would certainly apply it to a conversation I heard between my dad and a new-ish uncle (ie, he had recently-ish married my step-aunt).  He had gotten his MBA and was being invited into his (new-ish) father-in-law's business; a very successful shoe store.  My uncle wanted to make all sorts of changes based on his deep understanding of business, as evidenced by the fact he had earned an MBA.  My father suggested he might want to learn why his father-in-law did things the way he did, based on the fact that the store was successful.

I have tried to apply that lesson to my daily life ever since.  The brilliance of that simple idea was never more evident than when I was recently called upon to give a eulogy for my late father-in-law, Aaron Dovid ben Yitzchak, a"h.  We had had many disagreements in the 38 years I had known him, but I looked at what he left over: a 59+ year marriage, a frum daughter who is involved in ensuring the continuance of Klal Yisrael, grandchildren and great-grandchildren being reared in Torah-observant homes.  He left this world with tahara and k'vuras yisrael; attended by yeshiva yungalight as well as his close family.  With such a successful life, I looked again to find the lessons.

My father-in-law understood commitment.  A 59 year marriage has always been an accomplishment; in America today with soaring divorce rates, it's a model.  He, together, with my mother-in-law -- she should live and be well -- undertook to rear a granddaughter when he was already in his 70s and retired for many years (more about that later).  She was brought into their home and treated as another child; shelter, clothes, education, and even car pools.  Also, in retrospect, I realized that once I married his daughter, I was a member of the family.  He also accepted me for better or for worse.

My father-in-law understood that work is a means to an end, and not a lifestyle.  He did not have a particularly high paying job; he was a civil servant for the state of California.  By being careful with his expenses and investments, though, he retired at 55.  I asked him if he was going to miss work; "Not at all!"  He followed the market carefully and made investments with cautious optimism.  He was not, however, "playing the market".  In fact, again in the crystal clarity of retrospection, it was evident that his single-minded goal was to ensure financial security for his wife.

My grandchildren are, bli ayin hara, quite verbal and, Baruch HaShem, had several years to experience having great-grandparents.  They therefore needed titles for all of us.  My wife and her mother became Bubbie Debbie and Bubbie Bea.  I became Bubbie Debbie's Zeidy; my father-in-law, Bubbie Bea's Zeidy.  (Better half really does seem to be an exaggeration; we weren't ever worth our own names!)  Some are young enough, though, that this was their first experience with death.
I called my younger daughter as she was preparing to come to Florida and we discussed how she had explained all this to her children.  Then I heard my granddaughter's voice in the background and her mother (my daughter, in case you lost track) asked her if she wanted to talk to Zeidy.  I heard her reply, "Bubbie Debbie's Zeidy or HaShem's Zeidy?"

However he came into this world, whatever decisions he made passing through this world, he went out as HaShem's Zeidy; Baruch Dayan HaEmes.


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