Here I am, in LA again, for a funeral. I have a lot of family in LA. My great grandpa, Nagypapa, died last week. He was an amazing man: a holocaust survivor, a communism survivor, an immigrant who left war torn Hungary with his wife and two small children in the middle of the night.
Yesterday was his funeral. We all went to a service at his synagogue where my grandpa gave the sweetest, most meaningfully heart felt eulogy in the history of eulogies. After that, we all piled into our cars and followed the hearse and police escorts first past Nagypapa and Nagymama’s house they had lived in for 50 years. Then we continued onto the cemetery.
He was buried in an old, beautiful Jewish cemetery next to his wife of 60 years, my Nagymama. Everyone helped shovel dirt into the hole, including me. It was interesting. And messy. And sweet. And heavy.
Jews don’t put flowers on graves or tombstones, we put rocks. That might sound weird, but it comes from how rocks aren’t alive and they stick around pretty much forever, just like our love for that person.
Nagymama and Nagypapa share a gravestone. Nagypapa’s hasn’t been engraved yet. Nagymama’s has, and it’s very pretty. It has their last name at the top, and her name in a little square along with some other information.
After we left the cemetery, we went back to their house. Nagymama died last year, and she spent her last days in that house. So did Nagypapa.
I hardly remember Nagymama because the last time I saw her was in 2004. I remember she was sweet and old and made really good food. It’s actually kind of funny, because since I was so little, I only came up to her stomach, and so I remember her up to her stomach. She was amazing, though. She survived the concentration camp Auschwitz.
I remember Nagypapa because we visited him at his house this summer. He was also very sweet. In addition, after Nagymama died, my dad made it a priority to call him every week before Shabbat on Friday and talk, so I had the opportunity to talk to him on the phone sometimes. About a week before he died, I was able to sing him some of my Torah portion for my bat mitzvah. I think I really made him happy. The last thing I heard him say to me was “That was beautiful, beautiful.” Then I said thank you and I asked if he wanted to talk to my sister and he said yes, so I made a point of telling him I loved him before I gave him to my sister. So I guess the last thing I actually heard him say was “yes, ok. I love you too.” I’m really glad I made a point of saying that.
Nagypapa was an amazing gardener. He had 2 orange trees, a lemon tree, an apple tree, roses, and a kumquat tree? Bush? Kumquat grower. When he was younger he had vegetables, too. They had a small yard, but it was alive with beautiful things growing everywhere.
Yesterday, there were a lot of ripe oranges and lemons. My sister, my brother, my cousin, and I picked a whole bunch of them and put them in a paper bag to bring back to my grandma’s house. I also ate about 3 oranges. They were perfect: bittersweet, juicy, and right off the tree. The bittersweet was perfect because so was the day: although Nagypapa had died, he had finally been able to stop suffering and been reunited with his family, especially Nagymama.
We stayed at their house all day. When we left, it was dark, and the moon was out. The moon was a tiny, bright sliver that looked like it was floating. It was u shaped, and curving the same way as a u. But the amazing thing was the rest of the moon was visible too. It was just not as bright. It made me think how just because someone isn’t with you, doesn’t mean they aren’t there. 🌠🌙