I took a quick flip through some favorite photos and these stood out.
The first one might have been taken soon after my parents were married in 1949. (I looked carefully and my mother is wearing a ring on her left hand.) As I look at my father's expression while he gazes at his bride, it's clear that he was filled with joy at the start of their life together.
The second photo was taken in 1999, when the whole family celebrated my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. Dad is standing with his granddaughter (my niece). He's older and heavier. He's lost a sister and both parents. He's raised a family. He's been through job and career changes, moved from New York to Ohio to New Jersey, recovered from a stroke, and watched his oldest daughter go through her (first) bout with cancer. Yet he's still smiling.
I wish I could say that my dad had a sunny disposition all his life. His last years were increasingly difficult and he could be tough to be around. But I remember the joyful father who loved to cook his special dishes: Spanish omelet, his mother's onion "cookies," chopped liver. The one who snuggled up to my mother each and every night that they slept in the same bed. The father who, even as he was dying, could do the crossword puzzle in his head.
Zichrono l'vracha, may his memory be for a blessing to all who knew him.
* Exalted, compassionate God, grant infinite rest in Your sheltering presence, among the holy and pure, to the soul of our beloved, Shimon Shir ben Zalman haCohen, who has gone to his eternal home. Merciful One, we ask that our loved one find perfect peace in Your tender embrace, his memory enduring as an inspiration for commitment to his ideals and integrity in our lives. May his soul thus be bound up in the bond of life. May he rest in peace. And let us say: Amen.