I left for a family vacation on June 29th. When I came back, my world changed. My father in law, Jerry Hurwitz, died at the age of 88. Lots of people hear this and say “he lived a good, long life” … which is true … but that doesn’t say what you really need to know: the world lost a truly special man.
Anything I write about my father in law will sound trite, but to me he was larger than life:
- a leader of his community; he could address an audience of 2 or 2000 and keep them spellbound and laughing;
- he was someone people looked up to, and went to for advice on matters large and small;
- he was not wealthy, but never envious, and always generous to those who had less
- he was a war hero who was shot down over the Pacific in WWII, then came back to work in the nightclub business in NYC, before marrying and raising his family
- he was a renaissance man who without the benefit of a college education, ran a business, supported his family, educated two sons, tended his ailing wife, led his synagogue and his condo, and became a published writer.
… in short, he accomplished more in his life than most of us could ever aspire to.
Since Jerry liked to write, let me share excerpts of his wisdom:
“…when we feel the sunlight, there is a tune. The birds, perching on a tree limb, are an orchestrated choir. Children with a ball, laughing, screaming, jumping rope, playing games, are a concert that is euphonious to our hearing.
Now you tell me the name of a composer who can write a more rewarding scenario, direct a greater opera. Add the rhythmic beat of people’s steps walking by and we’re in a giant theater. A world of smiling happy sounds.
My friends, this is the Lord’s gift to us — a symphony. All we have to do, from this hour, this moment, this very second, as human beings — is — KEEP THE MUSIC PLAYING. And we’ll dance through the rest of our lives”.
“..Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic dream. We envision ourselves on a long trip that covers an endless expanse. We are traveling by train. Out of the windows we drink in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing, of cattle grazing, of chimney smoke, of row upon row of corn and wheat of city skylines and town halls.
Uppermost in our minds is the Final Destination. We will pull into a stop on a certain day at a prescribed hour. Once we get there wonderful dreams will come true and the pieces of our lives will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle.
When I put the last kid through college, when I’ve paid off the mortgage, when I reach retirement, I shall live happily ever after.
Sooner or later we must realize that there is no one place to arrive. Once and for all, the true joy of life is ‘THE TRIP” … the final stop, the goal, constantly out distances us.
Embrace, nurture the moment, Carpe Diem — capture the day! This is the time the Lord hath given. Be glad, rejoice in it.
It isn’t the burdens of today that drives us … it’s the regrets of yesterday and the fears of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves that rob us of our present being. Stop pacing and counting. Instead,
climb more mountains,
eat more ice cream,
go barefoot more often,
swim in more rivers,
watch more sunsets,
laugh more … cry less.
Life must be lived as we go along. The final station, the Last Stop, the Prescribed Hour will come … soon enough.”
So, this week I reflect on Jerry Hurwitz, celebrate his memory, and share with others thoughts of a man I was lucky to know. After we bury him, I will sit shiva as is the custom of my faith.
Next week business continues as usual, and I will try to catch up on a month of emails, news, bills. That’s life.
Thank you for listening,