Toward the beginning of the last Elul of my father’s life, we told our kids that soon it would be Zeide’s birthday. Schoolchildren associate birthdays with the parties they have in school, and they were simply tickled pink by the notion that, “Zeide is going to have a birthday!”
In all innocence, my little Yitz asked me, “Is Zeide going to give out pekelach (candy bags) on his birthday?” It was such a cute comment, and I called my father to tell him his grandchildren want to know if he plans on distributing pekelach on his birthday. To my great surprise, he said, “Yes! Tell them Zeide is coming to give out pekelach!”
That Friday, he came; bags of treats in tow. In return, he asked that each grandchild give him a bracha. To be honest, his wanting brachos from everyone made me uneasy. It was out of character. Anyway, he made his rounds, going to each of our homes – all of us here in Eretz Yisrael live in Ramot. When he got to my house, he gave out treats, and, of course, asked for a bracha.
When it was my Yitz’s turn, he said to his Zeide, “She’teilech l’Gan Eiden — You should go to Gan Eiden!” My mother was also present, and we all looked at each other in shock. We were all unnerved, including my father. My mother and I prodded Yitz: “No, Yitz, give Zeide a different brachah.” All he knew is that Gan Eiden is a wonderful place, and he couldn’t fathom what was wrong with his bracha.
But he complied and said, half-heartedly, “She’tihiyeh Rav — You should be a Rav.”
My Yitz seems to have had a special connection with my father. When we told him what happened and that Zeide was now in Gan Eiden, he refused to be consoled. He kept crying and saying, “I don’t care, I just want Zeide to come back to us!”
One time, after the shivah, I was thinking about my father and started crying. Yitz noticed and said to me, “You’re sad because of Zeide, right?” When I nodded, he said, “I am too.” When he came back from his cheder’s trip to the Kosel, we asked him what he davened for. “For techiyas ha’meisim (the resurrection of the dead),” he said, “so I can see Zeide again .”
(From Mrs. Rivkah Walder)