This week marks the 25th yahrzeit since the passing of my grandmother, Mary Siroka. Hard to believe how much time has gone. I was a sophomore in college (at American University, Harvard on the Potomac :) and was on winter break. Mom, Dad, Eliot and I were vactioning in Hawaii when we got the call, the morning of the day before the first eve of the holiday. People plan, God laughs. Dad quickly re-arranged our travel plans so we could get to New York for the funeral, and be with our extended family. Change of pace indeed. We flew through LAX (where Dad insisted on purchasing me a t-shirt with Fred and Barney doing the hula) and arrived at JFK on a blustery cold morning (the warmest item of clothing I had with me was an AU sweatshirt, needless to say no appropriate outfit for the service). Getting settled, Dad and I hustled out to Alexander's to get me a jacket and tie, etc.
The funeral itself has an indelible place in my mind: it may have been the last time that all 15 of grandma's grandchildren were together in the same place. I'll never forget spending those first few eves of that Hanukkah centered at my uncle Harold and aunt Shirley's house - Dad and his siblings and cousins recounting stories, the aunts and uncles bragging about us kids, and even seeing the Japanese flag Harold had captured in the Pacific during the war. Tears, laughter, camaraderie, love....a touching festival of light.
This year, as we celebrate the onset of Hanukkah - be mindful of those in your life (living and long gone) who fill you with light.
CHAG URIM SAMEYACH - wishing you a happy, healthy, love-filled Hanukkah.