Before I begin, please know that I do take the whole death and mourning and shiva situation very seriously. I am extremely sensitive to the fact that there are people out there who are going through impossible health situations and losses and tragedies. This is a part of life. My dad’s health started its awful decline in the summer of 2015, and the only way I have known to get through it is through humor and eating too much.
So if you are overly sensitive (or a nutritionist), this column might not be the one for you because I need to make light of some things. If you don’t laugh, you cry, and since laughing and crying seem to be easily interchangeable, let’s see how this goes.
As some of you know, Husband #1’s father died a little over three months ago. When my dad passed last week, one of the first things my dear Husband #1 said was, “You are going to get more visitors because you are sitting shiva closer.” Yes, my dear readers, that is how my week of mourning began.
A little history. Every time the NY Mets or the NJ Devils would play, Husband #1 would say, “Look how well they are doing. Of course they are going to win.” He says this because, deep down, he does not want them to win. That’s because he is a NY Yankees and NY Rangers fan. We affectionately call that he does “jinxing.”
So in order to keep a very heavy and somber situation a little lighter, the competition was on. Truth is, and I am not wishing sitting shiva on anyone, I always thought that I would be the kind of person who would take notes on who came to pay their respects and who didn’t. I still remember driving out to Yemensvelt, NY (not the real place in order to protect confidentiality) to pay a shiva visit, and I am still convinced that the person had a checklist under their chair and was writing down every person who walked through the door. Honestly, the whole experience has been a blur of compassionate faces of people who were kind enough to come and offer me comfort. Not that I didn’t appreciate each and every person who did take the time to come, but, as I sit here writing this one week later, having just gotten up from shiva, my head still feels like it is in a cloud.
My dad was the kind of man who never wanted attention. He was so humble and tried to stay under the radar. He would never tell anyone anything he did for other people, as a doctor, as a friend. We would only hear about it from the person he helped. That is just the kind of man he was. And when my mom tested positive for covid on the night of the funeral, it didn’t even surprise me, because my dad never wanted anything to be about him.
The whole “man plans and God laughs” could not have been more true than it was this past week. My sister and I had cleared out space in the basement so we could sit down there, and my mom was going to sit in her “magic chair” upstairs. We had plans for a drinking game every time my mom would repeat the same phrases. (My mom knows about the game so I am not saying anything that would, God forbid, embarrass her.) It was all going to be a calm and smooth experience.
Nope. Not gonna happen, folks. Mom was quarantined upstairs, my siblings and I sat outside, and there was not a drop of tequila consumed.
Yes, I sort of went on a tangent from what I had started writing about, which was the shiva competition, but you will have to excuse my nonsequiturs for the next few weeks. I will conclude with this. My dad, Dr. Richard Michael Latkin, was the best. The best husband of almost 61 years to my mom. The best father to my sister, my brother, and me. The best obstetrician for almost 40 years. The most loving grandfather…. Just the best. I will miss him with all of my heart, but I know that he is so much happier now.
Thank you all for your patience while I grieve and remember him through my columns.
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is truly blessed to have Husband #1 and hopes he doesn’t strangle her in the next nine months of shared mourning time…