Monday, September 19, 2005

In memory of Levi Guttman

Passing away at the age of 65, two year ago, I want to avert from the usual fun and maybe superficial experiences to a more serious and philosophical tone.

The book "The Schopenhauer Cure" deals with death and with the ways to deal with it´s everlasting shadow casting over our lives. In this book, a physiologist realizes that he has a lethal Melanoma (skin cancer) and the doctor gives him one more year of good health. His perspective and the way he looks at life changes forever, and it strikingly reminded me of my father, who similarly knew of his upcoming death, only he had a week or two to prepare for his encounter with life´s end. I still remember looking at him some years back, when nothing threatening was in the horizon. I remember clearly that I noticed that his eyes lost their profound clearness and turned dim and cloudy, and I remember my thought, "Oh, dear, my father is getting older and older". It was a sad moment for me, and I remember something broke in my heart for him, knowing that nothing can stop time from taking a little at a time from a man's health and life. And then, it came on us, all of a sudden. Suddenly, my father was back to being flesh and blood, in a wheel chair, humble and his eyes now were full of sadness, and maybe even disappointment… disappointment of not seeing his youngest unborn grandchild making his first steps into life, as my father himself made his last steps out of his life into oblivion.
Only my father and maybe god if he exists in this cruel world know what passed through his thoughts all that time in the hospital, feeling the vicious disease eating him up from inside, and sucking the better of him. I dare say that my father knew of his coming death at least two weeks before the 1st of September, the day he passed away from us into nothingness. My father, I must add, was a very brave man, willing to know the truth, as hard as it can come knocking on the door, as long as it is the truth. Bitter as it might ever be. And he took it as a gentleman, as far as I saw it, even though I am sure he had his breaking points, in the last hours of the night, when he was all alone with his own terrible thoughts of ends. I guess a man, strong as he might be, can not be indifferent for the coming blackness, and my father was no exception. Suddenly, as I can only assume, nothing seems to matter, not the material aspects of life, in any case. Career, money, property, all useless in the face of time and death. Feelings are also a mess: Love, hatred, compassion and respect, all blended together into some heavy lump of feelings. What is all life worth at those hard times, as suddenly we understand that all our efforts end up in a small bed in a hospital when nobody can save us from the chocking- grasp of death?
But my father had his exceptions. He had his way to maintain self dignity and calmness in front all of us, his family and also, his friends, which done their best to help him cope with the disease. Nobody dared of even giving a hint about any end to things, even though it hung above my father like a heavy dark cloud. I still remember his last tears, a half a day before he lost his consciousness. It was when his grandchildren were brought to the hospital, to see their gentleman grandfather in hospital robes, sedative drugs pump into him so he would not suffer any more physical pain aside from his mental pain. They were very strong, hard and emotional moments, and none of us, grown ups and children alike, were not taken by those moments of parting. The bigger childs wept out of uncomprehnded sadness, and the younger one cried as feeling by their instincts that dark days are ahead, like dogs and birds acting franticly before the coming of a mighty storm or a shuttering earthquake.
My life, as most of my family's life, has change forever after my father passing away. Some simple physiological explanations will use the death of my father to explain my wandering and exploration here in South America, but more importantly, my father dead only strengthened my feeling that our life here is but a mere passage from one nothingness to another, as was mentioned in the book above. And if so, why are we here? As at the end, each and every one of us would like to know that his/her life was not a waste and that they have done SOMETHING! It might be for the sake of humanity, it might be creating a continuing dynasty for the family and it might as well be the carrying out a life long dream. Whatever it is, at the end we would want to feel that our lives were not in vain. It is not that I am traveling all around in this beautiful continent, thinking dark thoughts and trying to accomplish something I still don't know what it is, but I remind my self that my life is but a temporal combination of good luck as well as bad luck tight together in an unbreakable lock. It reminds me to think less about the future, even less about the past, and even more about the ever slipping present.
Time is all we have, so we might as well use it wisely and happily.

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