Inspirational Quotes from From Bagels to Curry

“As I sat at his (Dad’s) bedside a few weeks before his passing, savoring those moments when daylight hovers on a thinning horizon before disappearing into paler shades, I said to him, “Dad, you’ll be my father for the rest of your life.”

“’No,’” he corrected me with slow and deliberate speech. ‘I’ll be your father for the rest of your life.’”

“My father was his own best story. He was the epitome of outrageousness; in fact, he could have patented it, distilled it, and made a small fortune from it as well. Often the finest dramas are the ones that do not proceed with saccharine smoothness—but rather those filled with conflict, challenge, and hard-won victory, much like the rocky drama of our father-daughter relationship.”

“Jewish law would say I’m still Jewish. So does my own heart. To this day I hold dear the memories of my upbringing, even though in many ways our home was only peripherally religious. We were neither orthodox nor conservative nor reform. We were, simply, Jewish.”

“If I couldn’t find Hashem in the religion into which I’d been born, where did I expect to find Him?”

“Whereas my brothers were supposed to become successful doctors, lawyers, and rabbis, I was supposed to marry one. They did what was expected of them. I didn’t.”

“Life’s rhythms, full of possibilities and promises, sprawl before the young boy like a board game with new moves, clever strategies, and endless challenges. He will tackle them all in the years to come without missing a beat.”

“Dad was free, and his victory gave us cause to rejoice. His suffering in this world had ended with the finality of a novel read from cover to cover and definitively slammed shut to take its place between other dusty books with their rough-hewn bindings that rested on aged wooden bookshelves—now and forever, upright and forgotten.”

“From Brother Moshe: ‘A simchas hachayim, what a joy of life he expressed! Every one of us has had challenging times as Dad has. Life is difficult, it’s a big challenge. Dad was such an example of right attitude—that if you can’t be happy going through life, it’s not worth it.'”

“The internist’s optimism brings comfort. On wings of life-affirming hope, the human spirit soars with the news we all want to hear.”

“’Humble-schmumble, whaddaya talkin’ about?’” Dad says in his own brand of religious rhetoric, adjusting the plastic hospital bracelet on his wrist. How easily he finds the chutzpah in Jewish humor, its remnants transmuted from the Jewish people’s long-suffering history of persecution.”

“Here stand a brother and sister mulling over the incongruities of their interwoven childhoods with the matured minds of adults. I regard my grown sibling with wonderment, grateful that our lives are wreathed into the same tapestry.”

“I repeat the Hebrew prayer, “Baruch Atah Adonai.” Blessed art Thou, O Lord, our God. With open palms I draw in the light of the flickering candle whose flame burns both literal and symbolic. The wax drips with a muffled thud onto a chipped plate on the cracked kitchen counter. I sense that I am alone in a crowd of souls, per- forming the ceremony for all Jewish children throughout time who have lost their parents and now inhale softly just beyond my vision in the silent twilight shadows.”

“Dad toys with the word cancer—its implications, its newness, and how in joking about it he can claim a sense of mastery over his life-threatening opponent that now has a name. His sense of humor has yet to abandon him.”

“With bravado, passion, and an ability to turn a simple incident through the spoken word into a story worth telling—Dad is teaching us how to live.”

“My father turns over the minute-hourglass timer with a thump which means I have exactly sixty seconds—no more and no less—to place a word on the Scrabble board or lose my turn. Dad has never played easy with me. He’s not about to start now.”

“My father has never in all his life encountered a test he couldn’t handle with grace, poise, casual ease. He seems not at all prepared for this cancer-schmancer that strips him to his very soul. Yet even so he will endure, over- come, and—in his own way and on his own terms—survive.”

“When a person dies, it’s said that the sense of hearing is the last to go. I suspect that in my father’s case, it will probably be his ability to win at games. Little did I know how close to the truth this would be.”

“’Oy,’” he says with a heavy sigh, as though the long-suffering nature of the Jewish people sits weightily on his shoulders. ‘Such a good life.’”

“Why does it feel like I’m the one fighting for my life? Truth be told, I’m fighting to live in a higher awareness of death and dying; to find that place within myself free from self-doubt or questioning of my care for Dad; and to help him pass easily from this world and from his loved ones.”

“Zeke has always been lucky. Why? With the artfulness of placing himself in sync with the rhythms of life, luck has no choice but to respond to him.”

“In time, perhaps the heaviness of the warrior’s tests might lighten like a backpack filled with provisions that lessens in weight as he nears his destination. Maybe, he thinks, life will get a little easier as the end of the journey draws near.”

“Sometimes upon arising before wrapping myself in the mismatched outfit of the conscious mind, I grab hold of the hem of superconsciousness. These days, I cling to it. In my heart I know that state of pure being will not abandon me.”

“His eyes are radiant, shimmering pools of joy. Throughout this ghastly drama, there are places within each of us that remain untouched by the chemotherapy and the cancer.”

“Will the act of remembering my father while he’s still alive somehow make it easier for me once he’s gone? Can I outwit the natural grieving process so it won’t catch me unawares in unexpected moments throughout the years to come?”

“Two friends. Two burgers. One shared heart.”

“The readings in Hebrew and English weave themselves into the multi-course meal, illuminating the symbology of Passover. Tradition dictates that we sit comfortably and lean to the left in honor of our newly-won freedom from slavery—a custom affirming that the people of the Jewish nation have earned the right to behave any way they please.”

“We sing again, this time in Hebrew. To our God.”

“In our Zayde’s Passover voice is a blessed confirmation that all is right within him as he claims his freedom in the nation of his inner perfection. Indeed, Zayde is going to Heaven. Even now he is singing with the angels. And to his God.”

“My spiritual path of yoga teaches the willing aspirant not to be tossed about by life’s waves of transient emotions. True joy, the ancient science affirms, springs not from outer circumstances but from within us.”

“Stillness brushes this perfectly ordinary moment that exudes a divine perfection beyond the illusory nature of time, space, disease.”

“A great sage once said that our spirituality is tested in the cold light of day. Such indeed is my test. Many times I remind myself what’s important—not the events that are happening but how I choose to respond to them.”

“Our prayers have their own intelligence and they manifest as God wants them to.”

“Listen to your inner guidance and your own wisdom will follow.”

“A lot of healing happens around a deathbed. It brings people closer, and buried issues surface. Families unite if there’s harmony, and with the energy you can bring from a centered place, you can be that calming force.”

“Time spent in the presence of a loved one in the dying process can be an altered blissful state. It compels me toward immediacy with an urgency to stockpile in my heart each tiny vignette of preciousness with Dad. Every moment feels so resilient yet so fragile.”

“My internal homework is to reach a deeper understanding of the dying process, of physical death, of the undying joy of the soul—and to survive this blistering test.”

“The saga of chemo and cancer hums its tune—the sorry ballad in which our family now lives.”

“Witnessing his (Dad’s) battle to remain with his loved ones hastens me in my spiritual practices, to go longer and deeper in my meditations, to “die daily” to life’s transient ups and downs, and to strive to “go no more out,”—that is, to not be forced by one’s attachments to this world to reincarnate yet again into the illusive cycle of birth and death.”

“Surely my father has earned the right to cling to whatever shreds of autonomy still linger in his shrinking world—a world in which he’s struggling with all his will to remain.”

“This is our genuine ‘quality time.’ It’s not about the cards or the Scrabble or that he’s still winning at games. It’s about having a family member close by to help nourish his soul in its transition from this world, this body, this incarnation. My truer job description—that of spiritual midwife—is to assist with his birth into the astral world.

“What can one say in objection to someone who knows he’s leaving this world and no longer needs to abide by its rules?”

“Father mine, as would be translated from the poetic Hebrew: My gladness is both deep and still that your last days are filled with joy.”

“A mother’s love is an ethereally transcendent expression of the Divine.”

“Life may indeed be a dream, but I’m not ready to see the dream of my father’s life come to an end. Not now. Not yet. Is anyone ever ready to say good-bye to a loved one?”

“My father sprinkles the room with life force. Living in this world without him is something I cannot imagine.”

“The birth of a butterfly is a perfect metaphor for the struggles we must endure in this world in order to grow spiritually. The insect’s efforts to break free of her hard-shelled chrysalis-womb pump the blood and life force into her wings that give her the ability to get on with living. Her strength to fly is both hard won and necessary for her survival.”

“With all the fluff being chiseled away from his life, all that remains is the love.”

“Each moment with Dad feels like a condensed course in unconditional love. . . The love between us has no limits, no boundaries, no source in this world. It simply is.”

“‘I’m dying and she’s buying me towels?’”

 “Zayde laughs, places the phone on its cradle, and improvs the conversation for me. He makes a grand story out of it as he does with everything. He enthralls, captivates, and turns us all into children at storytelling time. No one enjoys life like Zayde. No one.”

“There are many moments in these last days with my father when I feel a great peace in my heart. Indeed, his condominium is becoming a shrine filled with a band of angels.”

“When I was younger his words meant so little. Now they mean so much.”

“It no longer matters to me what Dad says, or that I’ve never been able to do anything right for him. I’m learning to treasure him in spite of, and precisely for, who he is. Death makes life so precious.”

“All I feel now is gratitude for this man who has been the perfect parent—maybe not the father I wanted but exactly the father I needed.”

“Everybody piles into Dad’s bedroom. Sparks of transluscent joy fly in all directions. Our patriarch leans against the headboard of his bed, bolstered by his pillows and his family. The loved ones to whom he’s given life now are giving it back to him.”

“The fiber of our relationship is being healed, changed, transmuted into pure light. The years of parent-child struggle are waning into the ether like a phonograph needle on an antiquated vinyl record that has reached the end of its final song track. Indeed, I’ve carved out this incarnation as I’ve chosen to live it.”

“There’s nothing to fear because of course he has the strength and courage to deal with whatever comes. He’s done it many times before. He’s always survived, probably a million times.”

“We may not always see the deeper lessons embedded within our life-tests. I’m seeing some of them now.”

“We all want death to happen a certain way, though it rarely goes the way we think it will.”

“I will wear this outfit every day in the week ahead for kariya, the Jewish rending of clothing at a funeral service. A practice with a dual meaning, it depicts the grief of the mourner and also signifies that it is only ‘the clothing of the soul’ that is torn away from the deceased while the soul itself lives on forever.”

“Every room in Moshe’s home is filled with Nichum Aveilim, the compassionate act of those who visit a shiva house to comfort the bereaved and let them know they are not alone.”

“In those magical ways that Spirit like a butterfly lands on the indelible moments of our lives, a woman at a nearby table offers to take our picture, immortalizing that moment in time for my birthdays to come when Dad won’t be around to give me a schmaltzy greeting card.  My last birthday with my father.””

“The birth of a butterfly is a perfect metaphor for the struggles we must endure in this world in order to grow spiritually. The insect’s efforts to break free of her hard-shelled chrysalis-womb pump the blood and life force into her wings that give her the ability to get on with living. Her strength to fly is both hard won and necessary for her survival.

In those magical ways that Spirit like a butterfly lands on the indelible moments of our lives …”


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