What makes one person live a long life and is noticed by but a few while others live a short life and are mourned by masses?

These last two weeks while much of the world was appropriately focused on Nelson Mandela my immediate family was consumed with my brother in law Luzi who died at a too young age of 58. 

Lou, Louis, Louie or Luzi as he was called was an attorney specializing in real estate.

More important he owned that one piece of real estate that is most coveted the world over, a shem tov a good name.

Luzi was eulogized at his funeral by his son, a son in law, and four great Torah luminaries.

A friend said “you’ve heard the expression a standing room only crowd, well there was no room to stand it was so crowded”.

From another “I didn’t really know him I met him only once but he saved me from losing my home. I had to be here”.

Yet another, “there were no real estate closings in New York City today all the attorneys and title closers came to Louie’s funeral”.

Luzi himself would have said the attendance by so many hundreds and all the superlative words were too much.

In truth he could have, even should have been eulogized for hours but as his son quipped if the eulogies last too long his father would’ve gotten out of the casket and left. Egos and aggrandizement were his enemy.

A quiet modest man, his son Sruli said it best, his love of family and friends, the pride he had in his children and grandchildren were his most cherished possession similar to the hundreds and thousands of flowers and trees he planted. Gardens in Brooklyn, Nassau County and the Catskills New York had Luzi’s signature loving patient green thumb.

His son in law Beryl quoted Luzi, “see this flower watch it, it will come back next year and the year after”.

Luzi wasn’t only talking about the flowers.

It was his metaphor for life.

He was saying- you see these children, watch them, nurture them like flowers and they’ll come back to you next year and the year after.

You see these clients, watch them and they’ll come back.

You see these good friends, watch them they’ll come back.

There are some who talk much too much and say little. Others use few words and their sound reverberates.

My brother in law was sick with cancer for two years. Only a handful knew.

He felt it imperative not to say anything.

He reasoned that people look at a sick person differently. He is right.

He wanted to continue being the best husband, father, grandfather, friend, attorney, neighbor. At his funeral many expressed shock to hear of his illness.

That would satisfy him. Why should others be concerned with his illness.

That wouldn’t bring a cure any faster.

Luzi and his wife Leah had a door in their summer home in upstate New York where each summer he would measure first his children’s and then his grandchildren’s height. All these annual markings with each child’s name were yet another representation of a year gone by with good and bad milestones.

A door to a year in review.

The Tratner history book measured in heights and smiles.

A funeral is a life summed in an hour of eulogies. Sounds too brief. But not if you planted flowers and trees called marriage, children, grandchildren, friends, humility, integrity and respect for fellow man.

These plantings last a lifetime and beyond.

My brother in law Luzi planted a very good life. May his shem tov, his good name bring blessings to his family.