B's father called her at work. A lot. "My darling daughter, how are you?" "Daddy! I am so glad to hear your voice - I hope you are having a fine day." A few hours later, he would call again. "Daddy I am so glad to hear your voice! I will see you for dinner ."
Recently I stood outside with other mourners as B's son shared a quiet eulogy for his Zayde, a brilliant scholar and leader. Throughout his life Zayde wrote several books, hundreds of articles, held a PHD and was a respected and honored religious leader for decades. And then he started to forget things.
Throughout Zayde's life with Alzheimer's his family cherished their time with him and never allowed anyone to compromise his dignity. Like the broken tablets, Zayde in his last years, remained the honored elder. His caregivers were relentless in preserving for him a quality of life, no matter what the state of his mind. He was included in every event, every celebration, every outing until it was clear that it wasn't pleasant for him. His grown grandchildren came regularly to visit, to take him on outings, or to just sit with him. B read to him daily from his own scholarly works, The New York Times, and the same sweet children's books that he had once shared with her.
The family said the traditional Jewish prayers daily. While Zayde might forget family names and faces, he never forgot the words and tunes of these ancient prayers. His soul never lost its memory.
******* From a commentary: "The purpose of wisdom is the performance of good deeds. The elderly individual while engaging in Torah study in the past, also acquired knowledge resulting from good deeds throughout his life, and for this reason a residue will always remain in his soul of righteousness and correctness.
Even if he has forgotten his learning, this only means that he has lost the details, but the pure encompassing concepts that are collected within the soul as a result of the great quantity of his former study, can never be forgotten. Similarly, even while one is in full possession of his learning, he can never verbalize the entirety of what he knows; it is only a person’s inner spirit that recognizes the truth of the pleasantness of the principles corresponding to his accomplishments.
The residue, the aura of holiness and goodness continue to be associated with a person as well as an inanimate object, regardless of the ravages of time and circumstance, and therefore continued reverence for such people and things is appropriate. "
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