Thursday, December 08, 2016

Daddy

My daddy, Martin Schwartz, passed away on December 2, 2016.  I hope he's met Solomon, I hope now they are both not alone. 

This was the eulogy I gave for my dad.


December 5, 2016


Thank you all for coming today.  I very much appreciate it and I'm sure my family does too. This will mostly be in I format but please factor in my brother too!


I've spent the past 72 hours trying to come up with the right words to convey how I feel about my dad.


I think most people here know that I am a daddy's girl.  For years I thought my dad hung the moon.  I hope most little girls feel that way about their dads.  I would stand on his feet and he would dance me around our living room like a princess.


My dad was born to Estelle and Charles Schwartz in 1941.  The first son after two sisters, Sondra and Arlene, and big brother to my uncle Norman.  He grew up playing stickball in the Bronx and going to Yankees games.  He was for sure a Yankees fan.  He graduated Dewitt Clinton high school where he got to school walking up hill, both ways.  After graduating enlisted in the navy.  He was on the ship that opened the St. Lawrence's seaway.


He became a lithographic cameraman by trade.  He met my mom through friends and they married in 1964. Their 52nd anniversary was a few days ago. They married in November and I was born in December my dad would joke.  But it was the following December!


Mike and I had a wonderful childhood.  We didn't grow up rich but we grew up with everything we needed in our parents. We were fed, sheltered and loved.  And we were driven to our various activities in a series of station wagons that my dad loved.


I remember snapshots of my childhood. Dad teaching me to play checkers and me crying because he won every game. It seemed like we played 100 games but it was probably only 5 or 6.  I remember calling him from college, complaining my anatomy and physiology class was too hard and that I would never need this information.  He said someday I would use that knowledge.  He was right.  Years later I was able to answer a really hard question about capillaries on Jeopardy.  He would bring me tootsie rolls when her ran errands for my mom.  He was a neighborhood dad whom all the kids knew.


My dad had a signature whistle and when we heard it in the hallway.  Me, Mike, mom and sniffy would race to the door get the first kiss! 


While learning popular dances for my cousin Eric's bar mitzvah, daddy did the most amazing John Travolta impression to The Bee Gees Staying Alive.  If only we had had the camera out.


I'd call my dad and say hi it's me. He'd say hello me or sometimes hello sweets. And we ended our conversations with I love yous.


Dad loved science fiction movies and Mel Brooks comedy.  He loved Country music: Johnny Cash, the Oakridge Boys, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn. He also loved Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass. He would visit me at work and say “Hello I'm Johnny Cash” to the receptionist. It was his signature greeting.  In some ways, I think my dad was a cowboy at heart.


We shared a love of The Muppets show and MASH – especially Season 2 Episode 20 ‘As You Were” when Hawkeye and Trapper John ordered gorilla suits.


He loved Diet Pepsi with very little ice, Lipton Tea, jelly beans and chocolate, chocolate almost as much as my mom.  And boy did he love a good ribeye steak. My dad cooked a mean grilled cheese and an even better one-eye sandwich for the kids. He loved hot dogs, burnt to a crisp. Speaking about food, my father would carve our Thanksgiving turkeys to perfection.  Anyone who’d ever seen one of his turkeys was blown away at his precision and meticulousness.


We shared a love of Wo Hops chicken kew with black bean sauce. I'd travel home from college on Amtrak and take the subway downtown to his job and we'd walk up Canal street to Mott.  He was always so happy whenever I had the chance to go to Wo Hops.


As a family we would go camping, roller skating and skiing.  And with his grandkids we’d play Uno, Balderdash and Wii Bowling.  The look on his face while my Aunt Tindy was winning Wii Bowling was seriously befuddled!


Dad enjoyed traveling with mom, with us and alone. Israel, England, California, Florida and Branson Missouri. Our whole tribe trips to Disney and Virginia, twelve of us having good times.


We shared so many conversations, none of which I can recall.  I just always enjoyed the time being with him that was precious to me.


Lest you think my dad perfect or that I thought he was, I didn't.  He was human, he made mistakes. I forgave him.  And he forgave me my mistakes.  My dad and I had a mutual respect for each other.


My dad loved my mom.  He took every opportunity to praise her to me – her cooking or how she looked. Most recently at Adam’s Bar Mitzvah he commented “Hey doesn’t mom look great?” They were just “2 kids from the Bronx”

My dad loved all of us and especially his grandchildren Alex, Alison, Adam and Cayleigh.  He had so many special moments with all of them.  He presented Ali with the tallit given him for his bar mitzvah at her bat mitzvah.  He loved Eric, called him a big teddy bear and I know he knows Eric will always be my rock and protector.


Many might not know: my dad had been ill since June.  He had been in Booth Memorial Hospital and The Grande Rehabilitation Center in Whitestone and then the VA Home in St. Albans.  Our visits were mostly every 1-2 weeks and we spoke on the phone every few days.  When he went into North Shore last Monday, I thought this was just a setback and that I’d see him this coming weekend.  On Monday, I showed him pictures of all of us on my cellphone, and he smiled.  When I showed him the photo of my cats, he smiled and rolled his eyes.  He feigned dislike but I know he was an animal lover. It broke his heart when Sniffy died and he could not bring himself to tell me. He told me she somehow gained her strength and ran out of the vets office and is still running.


My dad was a son, grandson, nephew, uncle, son-in-law, husband, father and grandfather. His love was unconditional. He liked most people and tried to put people at ease.


He was my hero in so many ways. 


It is a blessing that I got to be Marty's daughter and even more so that not only was he my daddy, he was also my friend.  There is a daddy-sized whole in my heart that will always be there. I imagine you arrived at the gates of Heaven and said “Hello I’m Johnny Cash.”  I am glad you are no longer suffering and sad that you are not here to enjoy many more years with us.  You are always with me.  I have the Schwartz chin and your hands. Adam has your sensitivity and Alison has your strength.  Alex has your commitment and Cayleigh has your spiritedness. 


I love you daddy.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Small Great Things

I read the book, Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult this week.  The story was excellent and I pretty much abandoned many of my usual chores to read.  There were two sentences that just will stay with me.  "I think I know why it is called the Kangaroo Suite.  It's because even when you no longer have a child, you carry him forever."  Here is the Amazon link  Small Great Things

Sunday, October 16, 2016

In Memory

This week was both Yom Kippur (October 12) and Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness day (October 15).  We lit a candle for Solomon along with Eric's dad and brother for Yom Kippur.  Imagine my surprise when Eric suggested including Solomon in our Temple's Yizkor Book.  Yizkor is a memorial service held by Jews on certain holy days for deceased relatives or martyrs.  We made our offering and here is the photo of Solomon's name.  I rarely see his whole name anywhere.  I was so touched at Eric's suggestion.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Wonder 16

Today is the 16th anniversary of losing Solomon.  In less than three weeks Adam will have his bar mitzvah.  March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, especially for me.  I've spent the last few months wondering, a lot.  Wondering what Solomon would look like at this age.  Wondering if he would be athletic like Eric or a book-lover like me, maybe both.  I wonder if he would have a girlfriend, or a boyfriend and would have all the googly feelings of a first crush.  I wonder sometimes how 16 years have flown by in a blink.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Another

Eric shared an email with me just the other day.  An older couple from our Temple wrote to the Executive Board about the loss of their grand-daughter at 34 weeks.  They knew the child would not live earlier in their daughter's pregnancy.

As I read the email, I could feel another piece of my heart breaking off and drifting away - for their pain and suffering, and for mine.  The odd thing is, I was also feeling envious.  Solomon did not make it to 34 weeks and I did not get to have him in any physical way outside my body.  My thoughts were how lucky this family was to be able to see this child and to hold this child while I was not able to.

In the end a loss is a loss and hopefully Eric and I will be able to offer support when needed.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My birthday

I turned 50 last week. Hard to imagine.  When I lost Solomon I was 34.  So much has happened in life.  Lately I've been praying to him a lot for what weighs heaviest on my mind.  I do wonder if his spirit can hear me and is aware of my life. I hope I'm forgiven for losing him when I did everything I could to save him.

Friday, May 15, 2015

15+

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to have a girly medical procedure.  The last time I had this procedure was 2000.  In fact I had two that year: one 7 weeks after losing Solomon and the second for my blighted ovum.

For the 2000 events, I remember bargaining with God, please let my body heal, please let me get pregnant and have a living baby.  This time around, I was bargaining to let me live.  I get very paranoid and have fatalistic thoughts whenever I am anaesthetized.  Now it takes the form of how will my family go on without me?  I'm not that narcissistic to believe they would be incapable.  I just get so saddened at thoughts of what I would miss if I weren't here to be with them.

Obviously things went well as deep in my heart I knew they would.  Still, lingering thoughts about the trajectory of my life.