Fred Feldman Comments at Unveiling
February 20, 2005
During the last year, IÕve had a hard time getting father out of my thoughts. Not that I didnÕt miss mother just as much, but with both of them gone, I felt more alone than I thought I ever would. Not that I donÕt still have all of you, and thatÕs important, but because the world seems much emptier with both of them gone. I never really realized how much of an anchor they represented to me and how much of the direct link into our past that they were. They were the doorway to another world that we came from and that is painfully gone.
During the 11 months of saying Kaddish, I could see father every time I said it, and it was comforting to see his face. I saw him in his rakish cap; I saw him in his Yale sweatshirt; I saw him teaching Sam, and Benji, and David to play chess. I saw him playing chess with Irving in BorisÕ house. I saw him hiking with us and all the kids at Point Lobos. I could even hear his words.
And lots of times, I turned to the video of him talking to me when I spent a week with him in Palo Alto the year before he passed away. You can see heÕs older and weaker there, but heÕs still the archetypical Mendel. Crystal clear memory, strong opinions, driving his point home, loving to be the center of attention. ItÕs wonderful to see and to be able to go back to, and this last year, I went back to it a lot, just as IÕve gone back to the tapes of mother and father in South Bend 20 years ago a lot too.
WeÕre the beneficiaries of a lot from these two people. Everything we have came from them. And besides the miracle of their survival from the maelstrom of the holocaust, what weÕve been able to do with our own lives as a result of them is also a miracle. They taught us... how to survive, how to never give up (part of the dominant ŌachshenĶ gene), how to always strive to be better, how to value family, how to value our yiddishkeit. And we learned in the last days of their lives, that they also learned how important they were to each other. What they taught us, even then, is the importance of us knowing how to appreciate each other, in our own lives, every day that we live.
They made us a strong family and always wanted us to be closely knit with each other. With them gone, we need to maintain our links to each other to keep the world from shrinking with their passage and to keep their memories alive.