Monday, August 27, 2012

Jahrzeit, and the Man in the Moon

The Jewish people have a tradition of remembering their beloved dead on the anniversary of their death, which they call (in Yiddish), Jahrzeit (YART-site), literally, 'Time of the Year'.

It was a year ago today that my dad died.  Without going into morbid detail, the images of his final days and hours are still pretty fresh in my mind.  But the images of 54 years that his life and mine coincided have, I don't know, taken on a fuller perspective?  The final chapter having been written, I can now appreciate the entirety of his life, and his effect on mine.

It's good for me to step back and take a bit of time to remember him, to recall with gratitude all that he gave me, and taught me, by his own admirable example much more than any specific instruction.  Of course, I still miss him; I suppose I always will.  But, a year having passed, the starkness of losing him has softened a bit.  I have more of a sense of perspective - of the completion of his life, and his central place in my own life, of his humanity, and what a good man he was, and how fortunate I am to have been his son.

Thanks, Dad.  Requiescat In Pace. . .\


Dad, being the engineer that he was, would probably get a bit of enjoyment from knowing that Neil Armstrong died within two days of the anniversary of his own death.  Armstrong was not a pioneer in the sense of Columbus, or Lewis and Clark, but he was a great, brave man in his own test-pilot, engineer way, and the circumstances of history have assigned him, perhaps along with John Glenn, an emblematic role among the early astronauts, and the American space program of the 60s more generally.  Of course, he was the first human being to set foot on the surface of the moon, and his "One small step. . ." quote is indelibly etched in history.  Even today, more than forty years later,only eleven men besides Neil Armstrong have ever walked on the moon.  What an incredible experience. . . I can only imagine.

RIP, Neil Armstrong. . .


  1. hoping today gives you sufficient time for reflection as you need it. may your dad and neil armstrong both rest in peace.

  2. Hmm, and I didn't even plan my latest post around this date but I guess we've got a minor theme here. Next year will mark 40 since my Dad passed and his life is still tightly intertwined with mine. I'm sure you will find the same, Dads have a way of getting under your skin. In a good way.

    I watched Mr Armstrong on that day, yet another thing that stays with me for altogether different reasons. What an incredible accomplishment and a permanent legacy of exploration.

  3. Remembrance is a good thing and taking time to invoke the treasured moments and legacies on this day is probably one of the best ways in which an anniversary such as this can be spent.

    Wishing peace and comfort for you on this day.

  4. Lime - Thank you, my friend. . .

    Xavier - For many years now, I've often caught myself, when facing a thorny conundrum of life, asking myself, "I wonder what Dad would do in this situation?" It's a gift just to have the resource of having known him for so many years, to hold my thoughts up against the template of his life. . .

    And you know, the tendency was always to look at the space program and the moon landings in a kind of 'Exploration and Discovery' light, but really, it was more like a triumph of engineering, when you get right down to it; almost like the World's Most Colossal Science Project.

    But, oh yes. . . I remember that evening in July, when I was 13. . .

    Flutter - Remembrance is a very good thing. Thanks.

  5. Finding the connections, and treasuring them, is a great way to remember someone. Well done.

  6. Suldog - It's all about the connections. . .

  7. "I wonder what Dad would do in this situation?"

    Indeed, just what would he do?

  8. Armstrong symbolizes the American dream moreso than those who go from rags to riches. And then he went back to the most anonymous life he was able to lead. Truly an American hero.

  9. Xavier - You know, I don't always know what Dad would do, but it's always constructive just to ask the question. . .

    And I don't even need the cheesy rubber bracelet. . .


    Bijoux - Hey, good to see you here!

    I think you're probably right. As supremely talented as they are, astronauts are not typically built for glad-handing in public, and for the guys who went to the moon, that's pretty much what they were looking at, unless they could manage, like Neil Armstrong did, to keep their head down and fade away.

    I've been to Wapakoneta; it's not a very big town. It's just a wonderful thing, to realize that a kid who grew up there was the first man to walk on the moon. . .