I can’t believe you’re gone. You were the anchor of our family. The matriarch of our clan. The role model of unflinching hospitality. You possessed a heart of gold that was big enough to include every single person you met.
Safta loved stories. She loved telling them and she loved hearing them. I’m going to tell a story. It’s a story of how I imagine Safta’s reunion now with Saba after 31 years.
“Zahava!” Zvi called. “What took you so long?”
“Why were you in such a rush?” Zahava chided Zvi. “You missed so much. There was so much left to see and do.”
“My job was done,” Zvi explained sadly. “My time was up. I missed you so much.”
“Me too,” Zahava answered. “You missed all the other grandchildren being born. You missed their weddings. You missed great-grandchildren being born. Bli ayin hara, so many and so beautiful. The family has grown so much and you weren’t there to see it.”
“But I was, Zahava. I was there for every birth and every brit. I was there for every wedding and even for the sheva brachot. I was there for the birth of every great-grandchild. I can see it all from here and I don’t even have to pack. But I was lonely.”
“Me too,” Zahava said. “It wasn’t the same without you.”
“You? Lonely?” Zvi asked in surprise. “Your house was like Grand Central Station. People coming and going all the time. It was the first stop for almost any Israeli that came to New York. And you were always on the phone with the whole world. Helping people. Getting people jobs. Making matches. Sending shmattes from one side of the world to the other. There was no person who was too lowly or too important for your attention. It didn’t matter where they were from, what religion they were or what language they spoke. And how you cared for the grandchildren and then the great-grandchildren. No, Zahava, I saw everything. You should be proud. You left behind a wonderful family. A wonderful legacy. A legacy of kindness. Of caring. Of compassion for any and all. Now it’s their turn to continue the legacy. Our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren will remember. They will remember that they had such a Safta. They will remember her strength and courage and wisdom. They will remember the importance of family. They will remember your love of people. They will remember your generosity. They will remember all of this. They will carry it on in their own lives. They will pass it on to future generations. Our job is done.”
“Really?” Zahava asked. “What do we do now?”
“Now we rest, relax and enjoy the show.”
And Zvi embraced Zahava in an eternal embrace and they lived happily ever after, together, forever.