Today, I’d like to tell you about three people who either indirectly or directly had an impact on my view of the world as well as the characteristics they had which inspire me daily to be a better person. They are no longer alive but they’ve left a priceless legacy behind.
I’m sure many of you heard President Obama’s recent revelation about a drone attack mistakenly killing this past January an American and an Italian being held hostage in Afghanistan. The American was Warren Weinstein, who, along with his family were dear friends of my family when I was growing up. My mother taught piano to both of his daughters, and we also spent time together over some lovely dinners at their home as well as ours. As the years passed, and his daughters grew up and moved on from studying piano, we saw less of them except for the occasional times my mother would bump into his wife and catch up on how all the kids were doing and what new adventure they were embarking upon. Life was normal until he was taken captive in 2011.
His abduction made no sense at all. Worse still was that he only had four short days until he would be reunited with his wife and family. Unfortunately, his story did not have a happy ending. I was left, like so many following this nightmare, speechless at how his life came to a senseless and tragic end. Mr. Weinstein was a gentle and profoundly intelligent man who dedicated his life to his family as well as to improving the lives of others.
This past Sunday was, as we all know, Mother’s Day. I enjoyed being pampered by my family but at times had to stop myself from trying to jump in and help. It’s not because I felt like they couldn’t handle it. It was purely out of habit and a desire to keep some sense of order in the house 😉
Anyway, that morning, as I waited for my breakfast, I texted all of my friends and family to wish them a Happy Mother’s Day. I heard back from all but one. It was not like her, but I dismissed it. Then last night I received a late night call from her to let me know found she had lost her husband on Saturday. He had passed away from natural causes. To say we were fond of him, would be a massive understatement. He was a stand-up guy and a supportive husband. Both of them had previously been married and when his wife need to moved back to Hawaii so that she could care for her dying daughter he packed up and left behind his children and grandchildren so that he could be by her side. He was selfless and always had a smile no matter how things were going.
Recently, my parents attended the Bat Mitzvah of the granddaughter of one of my mother’s closest friends. It was a bittersweet day as she had passed a handful of years ago and wouldn’t be there. When I was growing up, our families had lived within 3 houses of each other. She had two sons, one of which was my age, and we (including my younger brother) were all inseparable. That didn’t change when they moved on to another neighborhood. I remember how I used to sneak away from playing with the other kids just to keep her company as she prepared lunch for us. She treated me not like a child but as a friend. It made a huge impression on me that I carry with me to this day. She was also incredibly selfless. As an only child, she shouldered the responsibility to care for her elderly mother. She cared for her to a fault, even neglecting her own health. Her passing was sudden and only a few months later her own mother would also pass away.
I read on a daily basis about how we must treasure each day and try to lead a life that is fulfilling. Some days, it makes perfect sense. Other days, I just want to tell who ever said that to shove a sock in it. But, inside, I know it is sound advice and I try to be mindful of my actions; how I treat my loved ones and friends and the choices I make. I have also realized that leading a life with anger and regrets is not living at all. It accomplishes nothing exempt making us more angry and bitter. We owe it to ourselves to live fully and to give openly of ourselves no matter how scary the prospect of getting burned or hurt might be. Kindness is always remembered and can only positively impact each and every one of us.