Larry Osterman's WebLog

Confessions of an Old Fogey
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Judaism has a tradition that on the anniversary of a loved ones death, one lights a candle (known as a Yahrzeit candle).  Since it's a tradition, there are no laws associated with it, so each person chooses their own time to light a candle.  Yahrzeit candles are designed to burn for 24 hours so that they will be lit during the day of morning.

I have a yahrzeit candle burning in my office today, because today would have been my father's 71st birthday, he died six weeks ago on August 14th (of complications related to a bee sting, go figure).

I've avoided writing about it because I've not really known how to express the loss (beyond saying "it sucks"), and I'm not really into public grieving, but I feel it's important to say something right now.

I truly miss my father - we didn't talk much beyond holidays, but it doesn't matter - knowing I could always call him up was enough.  And now I can no longer do that.

It's wierd.  After a death, you go on with your life and everything's just fine, and all of a sudden, the loss really hits home, usually when you don't expect it.  I totally lost it a couple of weeks ago when watching "The Sound of Music" when Christopher Plummer started singing "Edelweiss" (my sister-in-law sang it at Dad's funeral).  Similarly, on Saturday night, while watching "The King and I", I totally lost it at the end - I usually cry at the sad parts of musicals, but this one was personal.  I relate to Prince Chulalongkorn at a totally different level now.

So much of who I am comes from my father - we were so much in common.  There's no question that I got my love for the stage (musicals in particular) from him, and also my interest in photography. 

I so miss the ability to talk with him about whatever - the law, tech, shows - it didn't seem to matter, Dad knew about everything.

I have so many wonderful memories of Dad, and I regret that I won't be able to make any new ones.


So Happy Birthday, Dad.  I miss you.


  • I remember when he came to Pgh to visit you, when you were still a lowly student :-). Yes, you two were very, very alike.

    I'm so sorry for your loss. He'll always be alive inside your heart.

    Love to you and Val & the kids.
  • I've been there, sorry about your loss
  • Larry,

    Very sorry for your loss.
  • "Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give [it] thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world." (John 11:21-27)
  • I hate having a rather strong desire to say something pithy while being unable to come up with anything pithy to say. What does one do when one's been touched by something, and simply saying "I'm touched," seems woefully inadequate?

  • Esther, we were actually talking about that weekend when we were East for the funeral, since it was the weekend my sister walked for the first time :)
  • Baruch dayan emet. I'm sorry for your loss.

  • Larry, I know exactly how you feel.

    My dad passed away in March this year, 57 years old. We hadn't had much contact the last few years, since I moved to another country part, but as you said - there are lots of wonderful memories to keep him with me.

    The two saddest parts, however, I've found these to be: My children, 3 and 5, will not grow up with a grandfather (who was a great man) and the older of them, which have met my father quite a bit more than the younger, said last week "Dad, I'm beginning to forget grandfather..." Sad.
  • MONICA?!!!?!1!

    Oh my. Drop me an email.
  • Also sorry for your loss... (it's one I fortunately haven't suffered yet, being a young idiot)

    ... but since I'm overly pedantic: you said that you're supposed to light them on the anniversary of someone's death, which would be a year after they died, not the anniversary of their birthday.

    Not that there's anything wrong with a remembrance on that date either.
  • As someone who also recently lost their father (July 4th), I know what you're going through. In any event, it's not something I'd wish on another: my condolences on your loss.
  • I'm sorry for your loss. Greetings from Spain.

  • Dear Larry,
    I'm so sorry for your loss.

    Stevie Wonder lost his brother this year and wrote a wonderful song to deal with it. He performed it live on CNN some days ago. You can watch it here:

    Kind regards,
  • I am sorry for your loss as well Larry, I know just what you are going through, it has been 10 and a half years now since my father died. While I have grieved and got over it there are still days when I sit back and think man would be nice to sit back and have a beer with dad.
  • Larry,

    I offer my condolences for your loss. The emotion in your post really touched me (I agree with Rick--that doesn't really express it). Thank you for sharing this personal glimpse.
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