I paid my 20 shekels with two friends at last week’s lottery but I did not win. I have never won a lottery. And yet I consider myself to be the richest man in the world.
My brain still functions and my memory is good for the most part. Frequently when I need to look for a misplaced book or object, I walk from the bedroom to the kitchen and by the time I get there I forgot what I was looking for. They tell me that it is common in old age. But I reject the term “old age”. It is true that physically I am approaching 85 years of life but my mind has remained stationery at 20. I suppose it is because most of my life has been involved in teaching and working with university students between the ages of 18 and 21 and I have been infected with their eternal youth.
Good friends advise me to go to the Senior Center and play poker, gin rummy, chess, backgammon or even monopoly. With the exception of monopoly, I have never played any other card or board games.
My life has been spent in reading and in writing. And age is not a factor in those activities.
Family has always been very important to me. Parents, grandfather,siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, children, grandchildren and even neighbors have been vital members of my life. As a child of immigrants I learned very early in life the warmth and closeness of family love and devotion.
My late wife has close cousins in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I have many family members in the United States. But the last remaining members of my father’s family live here in Ramat Hasharon. Binyamin and I are only six months apart in age. He, his wonderful wife Shula and his three fantastic children are the loves of my life. Whenever we meet it is always with many strong hugs and many kisses and it reminds me of my zaydeh’s hugs and kisses of 75 years ago.
We talk together about our mutual family, when they arrived in Israel (I say in Ottoman Turkish times; Binyamin says in very early British mandate times). He remembers the names of all the aunts, uncles and cousins. I remember only the name of his grandfather Yeremiayahu who was the brother of my grandfather Moshe Zvi. And of course I remember with great love his wonderful parents, Mordechai and Sarah who led me and my wife to the chuppah on the day of our marriage in January 1960.
Being with Binyamin and Shula always warms my heart and fills me with great happiness. They, like me, are not of this generation but rather of an older generation when family love was more visible.
Both of us have been successful in raising three wonderful children each. Both of us “kvell in nachas” as we see the seeds we have planted grow into strong, moral and ethical young men and women.
And it is for this reason that I consider myself the richest man in the world. Having loving family is more precious to me than gold, silver or diamonds. All of those precious items can be lost or stolen. But a heart that beats in family love remains forever and enriches our lives.
Aizeh hu ashir? Ha samayach b’chelko. Who is truly rich? One who is happy with what he has. I have loving family and therefore I am truly rich and blessed. Sometimes names escape momentarily from my memory but they linger forever in my heart and in my soul . For that gift, I daily thank God.