Lori Ada Jaroslow
10.30 p.m., Sam and I went into the bedroom to give Dad his morphine. "Oh,
my God, Mom," Sam called loudly, "It's happening, come on Mom, it's
happening right now, Grandpa's going. Come quick. Grandpa's going now, Mommy,
right now." Everyone ran into the bedroom and surrounded my father. Risa
wailed, "Daddy, Daddy."
Jerry," Alma cried out. He took two very deep breaths, stuck out his jaw
and clenched it twice. An excruciating, deafening silence ensued. Suddenly, a
stream of red liquid shot out of Dad's mouth. Alma said knowingly, "That's
the bile." When I wiped the red liquid off my father's mouth, I realized
it was the cherry applesauce she insisted on giving him the day before. Finally
Alma said, "Close his mouth, Lor," and I did. Then I read a prayer aloud
God, Please take the soul and spirit of Jerry Jaroslow into the sweetest corner
of your mind, the most tender place in your heart
rubbed Dad's skin, talked and held each other. We fell apart like a tag team;
one person on the floor sobbing hysterically at a time, the others comforting
that person. An hour and a half later, it seemed like it was time to call the
people who would escort Dad to the funeral home. My niece Mara took over, as the
rest of us were too undone. Risa gave her the number and she dialed.
I'm calling to ask if you could come get my Grandpa. 135 West 96th between Amsterdam
and Columbus. North side. Half an hour? Great, thanks." She hung up.
Risa bawled, "No wait, I don't want him to go. Mara, call them back and see
if we can have more time with him."
"Okay, Mom." She dialed
again. "Hello? Yes, I'd like to cancel an order, please. 135 W. 96th St.
Somebody else died after grandpa? I see, so it's either fifteen minutes or they
have to go to Brooklyn first and it could be an hour and a half. Uh
Brooklyn, we'll wait. Thank you."
Sam was exhausted. "I'm going
take a nap," he said. Mom, please, when they come to get Grandpa, wake me,
okay? I'll never forgive you, please; I want to be with you guys when they take
him, okay?" We covered Sam with a blanket and he was asleep on the living
room floor instantly.
people arrived. Mara buzzed them up and opened the door. Two thugs in suits,
straight out of Goodfellas, stood in the hall. "Good evening, ma'am.
RESIDENCE REMOVAL!" said one, kind of upbeat and casual, like he was delivering
Szechwan from Hunan Balcony. "Is dat da body over there?" he went on,
as he walked toward my sleeping nephew. "No, this way," Mara redirected
them. Risa felt it would not be good for Sam to see his Grandpa being taken away,
so she didn't wake him. The rest of us crumpled and hid in the living room while
Mara guided them. They took him out on something that looked like a cross between
a stretcher and a dentist's chair. We went down in the other elevator just in
time to see them pulling away in a dirty, old, banged up yellow station wagon.
It was among the saddest moments of my life. I expected a shiny black hearse like
in the movies. My Sis promised me there would be one for the funeral. As I turned
to go back into the apartment, there was one of Dad's Depends on the curb on 96th
Street. It was two a.m.
following night, Alma's boyfriend, Anthony, stopped by after working a twelve-hour
janitor shift, to shine the shoes Dad would be buried in. I was sitting on my
father's bed deciding what to sing at the service. I was going over "Sunrise
Sunset," when Alma ran into the bedroom galvanized, "Lor, that's the
song. You got to sing that. You got to sing that," she repeated. She was
jumping like she had seen the Lord in the living room. "You sing it so beautiful
in your voice, and it's like sunrise
you born, and sunset
hadn't quite thought of it that way, Alma, but you're right. Do you know that
Daddy sang this song in a musical he starred in on Broadway called Fiddler
on the Roof? Daddy's sister Ruth was also in the show, and so was I.
are shitting me," she screamed, and the decision was made.
May 20th, 2001, hundreds of people came from all over to honor my father. He would
have been thrilled; he had a full house. Friends and family greeted us in a green
room. Mom was already there when I arrived. "Mommy, are you doing okay?"
I hugged her.
"You're gonna put your hair up, aren't you?"
she asked. After thirty years of therapy, I left it down. "And don't forget
to pull the mike away from your mouth when you sing
otherwise you're too
the service, Abby, Risa and I went into the chapel to see Pop. He looked peaceful
and dapper. Risa was relieved. She begged them not to touch his Einsteinian eyebrows,
and they hadn't. The service was beautiful, moving, funny, and sad. Here's how
Klezmer music (a gorgeous haunting lament) Steve Elson on clarinet, Art Baron
2) Me, singing
"Every Time We Say Goodbye" by Cole
Porter, Jimmy Roberts on piano
3) Rabbi Koster
4) David Tobis
(Risa's David) eulogy
5) Risa, Abby and me
6) David Robinson
(Abby's David) The Intention, poem and eulogy
7) Jimmy Roberts (hilarious eulogy,
including imitations of Dad)
8) Me, singing
Jerry and Hazel Tobis (Risa's in-laws) letter
10) Rabbi Koster's closing speech.
in a procession ushering my father's body to the shiny black hearse. We were cloaked
in warm, crying kisses, when a woman with blonde, cotton candy hair came over
to me and shrieked, "UGH when you sang 'seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers'
I LOST IT, you have GOT to sing that at my funeral, I'm putting it in my will."
the days that followed, I stared and slept in Dad's stark apartment. I fielded
calls, everything from the mailman wanting to know his forwarding address, to
Omaha Steaks wanting to know why he cancelled his steak subscription. One warm
night I wandered downtown to the half price theatre ticket booth. There were hundreds
of people in line. It was five to eight. I got on the end of the line, though
I was certain it was too late and crowded to get a ticket. Out of absolutely nowhere,
a TKTS guy walked right up to me, and asked me what show I wanted to see.
Ringing," I said. "Why?"
He took me straight to the ticket window, past hundreds of anxious tourists and
theatregoers, and got me an orchestra seat.
are you doing this?" I asked.
reason, ma'am," he answered plainly. "I just do it sometimes."
I knew Dad was floating above me in midtown.
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