Five years ago before she died, my beloved wife Rahel asked three promises of me. One was a promise to continue writing for the TIMES OF ISRAEL, one was to watch over our children (all of them adults and even married), and the third, not to become attached to another woman and not to re-marry.
I have faithfully adhered to my promises. But the third one is most difficult. I am not attached and will never re-marry, but I am in search of love. I cannot describe what that means. I myself don’t know.
I am lonely, by myself most of every day, breakfast and lunch by myself, waiting until evening when my daughter comes home from her law office and we have dinner together and talk about the day’s events. It is a kind of love, to be sure, but not exactly the missed kind for which I am searching.
I had an idea to create two large signs, one in Hebrew and one in English, and to hold them up high while standing on the side of the Ayalon highway. One sign reads “M’chapess ahavah” and the other sign reads “Love wanted.”
But I knew that I’d get jeers in place of cheers so I wend my way home and drink some cold beers.
My favorite is the Mexican Corona but now that is a filthy word not to be used in polite society. So it’s a choice between Goldstar, Nesher and Maccabee.
Sometimes I lose my patriotism and cheat with a good Danish brew, Carlsberg or Tuborg. (Personally I think that Danish or Czech beer is superior to our Israeli sample of beer).
And while we may love beer, we cannot make love with beer. We hold the bottle with one hand, lift it up with one hand, pour it into a tall glass (if you are prim, polite and proper) or guzzle it without the bottle hitting your teeth. That’s real love…. But not the kind I am searching for.
Loneliness is a terrible curse. Family and friends and I speak together on the telephone every day but only hearing them and not seeing them, hugging them, kissing them, is not totally satisfying.
Of course, I neglected to mention that I truly do have a love night and day. She is an eight year old female, our Israeli Canaan dog Atara Carmit, who lies on the bed next to me and enjoys my cuddling and kissing but she does not respond in kind. She does, however, begin to growl when the petting stops and I put the palm of my hand away. She is telling me “Don’t stop. I want more love”. And I silently tell her, “So do I, mamaleh. So do I”. No response from her.
What can one expect from an Israeli dog? Now a good German Shepherd is another story altogether. I had one, Ouzi, several years ago. Visiting a kennel where German shepherds were born and bred, two month old Ouzi chose me and followed my every footstep. He lived with us for 12 years until he died.
We replaced him with a Doberman Pinscher, Moco, and with him we were comforted from Ouzi’s death.
Moco lived with us until death took him from us and left me and my children and wife grieving for the loss of our faithful friends. Our Israeli Canaan is the first female dog we have owned. Her personality is quite different from our previous male dogs. But she is my only real cuddly love. Grown children and grandchildren like being kissed and gently hugged but cuddling at their ages is a no-no.
Several of my friends who have lost their wives have re-married over the years and appear to be very happy while still remembering the first wife.
Rahel did not have to make me promise never to re-marry. It would never have entered my mind. She was my first and only great love and will remain so as long as I still breathe. No one can ever replace her.
Nevertheless, I do miss love. Male friends hug me, some even kiss my cheek as is customary among good friends in Israel, but words of love and devotion alone do not suffice me.
So if you see a bent-over old man with a body of 88 years and a mind of 18 years, please stop and say hello. Choose your sign. “M’chapess ahavah” or “Love Wanted”. I’ll reply to both.
Now it’s back to my dog for some more loving. Better than nothing!!!
Man’s best friend is truly God’s great gift.