June 07, 2012

My dad, Sheldon Charles Cohen z"l

Tonight marks my dad's fourth yahrzeit (anniversary of a death). I lit the 24-hour candle, and as I stood over it, I wondered which memory to share when I go to minyan tomorrow morning. It's the custom for mourners to share a few thoughts about their loved ones after we say the El maleh rachamim * prayer.

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.


  1. Yes, yahrzheit.... My mom died three years ago and now my dad is dying and my sister and I (two of us have flown down to be with him) are sitting around watching him fade away. The doctor gave hgim 4-5 days and today was day 3. One of the nurses we have hired said she didn't think it would be as much as another day; the night nurse phoned this afternoon to check if she must still come (ie, was he alive?) but he is still breathing.. He is 90 and so, as my one sister says, it is hardly a tragedy but still, he is my dad and a remarkable man. I wish you long life.

  2. Oh, forgot to add: thanks for sharing those snippets and photos re your dad.

  3. yes we can not foget to our dad ,my dad was a brave peson he fought with cancer but we could not save him.