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Hi! Thank you for stopping by to watch me, Leah, cook kosher. I've been the owner operator of my boutique catering firm in Seattle, Leah's Catering, for the past 14 years.
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I'll Remember You
Posted: March 1, 2011 By: Leah Jaffee

I'm not always sure what a blog is for or what it is supposed to be about. I've often been told I should write a book but it isn't easy to find the beginning, end or middle of a story; especially the story of a life of epically mediocre proportions. I can't predict what I'll write.

I feel the need to organize my emotions. There is Purim, hamentachen and the anniversary of my father's passing ~ may his memory be for a smile and a chuckle. He loved to tell stories. In 1998, my sister Jeanette and I finish the last of the hamentachen orders. It is March 10th, the day before Purim starts. My sister stayed with my father when in Seattle from Friday Harbor. He lived about a mile from where I was living with my family. This particular day, she takes my daughter Rebekah to my dad's and finds him in bed not breathing. He'd been ill for years with lung issues but we hadn't expected him to pass any time soon. She calls to tell me.

Dad

 

Devastated, I sit on the steps to the basement to collect myself. Being very close to my dad, it was a huge blow. We always worked together in my yard and I'd sit at his house and listen to him repeat his old stories. Before I converted and married, my daughter and I lived with him for a couple of years. I'd convinced him to move back to Seattle because of his health. It was easier for all of us if he were home, although it was soon apparent that we'd lost our Hawaiian vacation retreat. I'm sure that stories of my dad will appear in this blog over time. Suffice to say that I lost not only my father but a close friend and major supporter of my dreams and ambitions.

Dad and Leah

I know that as a convert I accept a new family, new parents. I also know that one doesn't mourn on a holiday. And, I know that one doesn't observe the rituals one would for Jewish parents. I may grieve with my siblings but not my community. The next night Purim begins and I'm stunned. The following day, I take my housekeeper in my van with a load of elaborate shalach manot and drive all over the place making deliveries. Where I'd made costumes in years past, there aren't any this year. Marty can read the megillah and I'm sure he did for me but I don't remember going to shul. I don't remember anything else.

We have a memorial service a few weeks later on a small yacht taking my dad's ashes out to Puget Sound. My uncle and cousin have come from Hawaii with a huge box of gorgeous leis. My sister has made a tape of Hawaiian music. It is unseasonably warm for early April. We pass through Lake Union, the Locks and out to the Sound. Do Ho sings "I'll Remember You" and Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole sings "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." "The Hawaiian Wedding Song" floats over the water as we scatter his ashes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVPjaiL_M3I&NR=1 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1bFr2SWP1I

http://www.leisofhawaii.com/elvispresleyhawaiianweddingsong.html

funeral

I have five siblings and, as in all families, not all relationships are created equal. I give the eulogy. I found a copy of it in a box recently. It is short and I basically use the language of "The Tanya", an early work of Hasidic philosophy by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi. Loosely adopting the concept, I refer to my father as a beinoni, an intermediate man; one who did the best he could in any moment - even if it was short of what his kids might have wanted. I don't say Kaddish but I do say "Aloha".

Purim hasidim

Me and "little me", Rebekah circa 1993

I think it time to put the simcha, the joy, back into hamentachen....and l'chaim back into Purim.

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