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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
Visiting Daddy

That's what I told my mother and her boyfriend I was doing before going to them. That's the way they see it.

I haven't been to that cemetery since the unveiling, which would be six years ago. It's a longish drive, and, despite the name (Floral Park), it's a fairly dreary place. Many cemeteries are pretty, with trees and shrubbery and landscaping. This one isn't. And, I have maintained, my father isn't *there*. There's a box there, and a body in it, and a headstone with his name and dates on it (in Hebrew and English) - we bought that headstone. We bought the plot next to his, too, for my mother, but this plot doesn't permit double headstones, so nothing is there. But Daddy? No.

But, there's still honoring to be done and his yarzheit* was two weeks ago, and, well, it was past time. So, we rented a car and we went. And I stood by his grave and I said several psalms and patted the headstone and placed stones upon it - we had a minor custom clash. My family places the stones as we leave; his places them when they arrive. *Shrug*

And I left. Maybe it was fighting the wind - this cemetery had no windbreaks. I had to hold on to my headscarf, my coat tried to imitate a cape and it was cold. Maybe it was other factors. But I really didn't feel much of anything there.

I miss my father very much. It's not sharp anymore, of course, but he was a remarkable man with a brilliant, caustic wit. We didn't always get along, but I was always daddy's girl. He adored my mother, too. And I think he'd be proud of the things I've done.

Every time I light a yarhzeit candle**, and every time I say yizkor***, and all day on Simchat Torah, which is his actual yarzheit, I talk to him. I feel him there, I feel the connection to him. He's still a part of who I am. He's still a part of all of us.

And I know I made my mom and her boyfriend happy. (Sidenote: I love Lenny. He's a sweet, wonderful man who also adores my mother. He's not my father. No one is - my younger brother is the closest we have now. But he and Mom are good for each other. Odd bit - his late wife is buried in the same cemetery as my father, but in a different area. They drive up there together to pay their visits. Lenny has one of those double stones, but his side is (thankfully) blank.) So that by itself made the trip worth it.

But my father? Wasn't there.

* Yarzheit= Hebrew anniversary of a death
**yarzheit candles - candles in glasses or little cans, designed to burn for at least 25 hours, traditionally lit on each yarzheit plus on each day we say yizkor. Also useful in blackouts and the glasses used to be used as measuring cups.
***yizkor - a memorial service done in remembrance of the dead. This is performed on certain holidays - the last day of Pesach, the second day of Shavuot (in Israel, the only day of Shavuot), Yom Kippur and Shemini Atzeret, which is either day before Simchat Torah or the day of Simchat Torah, depending if one is in Israel or not. Traditionally, those with two living parents leave the sanctuary during this service.



I know what you mean.

My father died in 1985. Maybe because my parents were divorced and we were raised by Mom and her side of the family, I didn't feel it so much. I mean, he is my father and I loved him, but... I guess the connection just didn't get there.

My stepfather died, oh dear, just over 2 years ago. I came home to find he never got up that morning. I think I am still numb from that. We didn't get along that much when I was growing up. But I think we got closer after my mother died. He was still grouchy, but I think he had a different point of view of my brother, my former sis-in-law (bro's ex-wife) and I after Mom took sick. I do miss him every so often.

My mother I miss the most. Maybe because she was my mother. That one hit hardest.

My father is buried in north Jersey near his parents. I have never been to the cemetery after the funeral. My mother was cremated and most of her ashes are spread in Barnegat Bay. My stepfather was also cremated and is buried in a veterans' cemetery somewhere central NJ.

I don't think I have ever gone back to a cemetery to visit a relative's grave except for once with my mom to see her parents. They just are not there. I don't need to see the piece of ground where the remains are put. That only reminds me that they are gone. I would rather remember their lives.

But I can understand going to visit a grave site if it helps.

Marcie's a very nice woman, who most importantly, makes my dad happy.

But she's not my mom, whose mortal remains happen to be in a small marble box, but she is not there, either.

G & I went to visit his grandfather's grave when we were in Mexico last spring. We treated it as G introducing me to his grandfather because for us in a some sense G grandfather's isn't anywhere else, since he died there before G was born.

Also, btw, Yarzheit is Yiddish rather than Hebrew ("year" + "time" I think).

I didn't say "yarzheit" was Hebrew. I said it was the Hebrew date, as opposed to the English/Civil date. I don't know the civil date at all - I barely know the actual Hebrew one because I just think Simchat Torah.

Oops. Sorry about the mis-read.

Beg to differ: he is there, as well as Elsewhere. The dead maintain a link to their bodies and burial places, and are aware when people visit them. There are numerous references in the Gemara and Zohar to this. If J's Aramaic is up to it, see if you can get a hold of Maaneh Lashon and read the piece beginning "Amar R Yitzchak", which is from the Zohar (Acharei Mot beginning on page 70b).

I understand that - I wouldn't have gone to say tehillim otherwise. It's just that I had no sense of him there, as opposed to those other times.