Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard, MA, August 4, 2013
Two a.m. phone calls on vacation are never good news. And so last Sunday morning began. It was not unexpected given the events of the last few weeks. After another emergency trip to Florida, I saw my Dad after a heart attack and with my siblings helped him make a decision regarding risky balloon angioplasty.
He survived the hospital and was going through rehab to get him home and back to his usual independent self. He was doing great. Just the day before had a “terrific” day, breathing “great”, and “getting great care” in the cardiac rehab hospital. But I knew it would be soon. He had stopped eating. Lost 30 pounds. The rally before the end.
No time to let it sink in. Calls to be made. People informed about the funeral the following day. Gutterman’s Funeral Services had to be contracted to fly the body back from Florida to New Montefiore Cemetary in Farmingdale, Long Island, NY. He would be buried along side my Mom.
We got on a plane from Martha’s Vineyard and headed to the “other” Island (Long Island) where I had grown up, where my father had lived most of his life. The next day greeted our gloom with beautiful weather. Aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, siblings, friends, mother-in-law, two of our three children, and my husband held us up during this most painful time.
Almost everyone there had known him practically their whole life. The speeches were from the heart, authentic and very comforting. I didn’t have to tell anyone about his great smile, how happy he was, and how much he made a difference in so many people’s lives.
They remembered how much he loved my mother, business and golf. How he had fought to change the “blue laws” in Suffolk County. How he helped my Uncle Murray (my mother’s brother) through medical school both emotionally and financially. How he was there fighting for my Mom’s heart transplant in Houston while he lost his restaurants in New York City.
The traditional meal of consolation after the cemetery was graciously hosted by my mother-in-law. Helping us remember the good times, the visitors told stories about Milton. His smile. The twinkle in his eye. His good humor. The evening, though sad, went quickly.
We left the next day for MV where I sat shivaah (meaning 7 days) contemplating the life my father lived and what he had given to me and my family. Several vineyard friends visited and brought food. I prayed at the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center. I spoke on the phone to many friends and family. Each conversation gave me an opportunity to remember him and what he taught me–to always push myself harder, never to give up, and to push on against all odds when you know you are right.
As I got up from Shivah Sunday morning, I thought about how we announced the death of loved ones during the days of print journalism–a few lines in the local paper. Our mobile society and digital on-line communication has made that forum obsolete. So here it is–we mourn the death as we also celebrate the life of my father, Milton Brodsky, 1928-2013.