Thursday, November 13, 2008

In memoriam: Paul Farber, 1912-2008

by J J Cohen

I've posted about Uncle Paul here at ITM in the past. He died yesterday in the assisted living facility where he'd been receiving hospice care for some time. I'd walked up to visit him earlier in the day, and realized quickly that although his body was lingering, he was already gone. Still I sat by his bed and held his hand. I told him how much everyone in my family loves him, and how grateful we have been to have him a part of our lives. He died at the age of 96, one day after his birthday.

Paul Pesach Farber outlived every member of his immediate family. His mother perished in a concentration camp. His siblings immigrated to the United States from Vienna (mainly through resources Paul sent their way), but they did not live long lives. His wife died in his arms a decade ago. His daughter succumbed to cancer when she turned forty. At age twelve his only grandson drowned while away at summer camp. Despite the tragedy that permeated his life, despite the moments of despair to which he was fully capable of giving voice, Paul was relentless in his humor, his affirmativeness, his joie de vivre. I remember once when a friend asked him to accompany her to an aerobics class, he raised an eyebrow and said "Why would I pay someone to yell at me?"

I met Paul for the first time when he was in his seventies. He didn't like me very much, and called me a snob. As time went on, though, we grew close. Even twenty years ago he could ascend Sugarloaf Mountain in Vermont far more quickly than I could -- and believe me I tried. Paul was a complicated person, and could at times be unpredictable, even mean. But he adored his great-niece, adored Alex and Katherine ... and he and I always had a bond that I find impossible to put into words.

I miss Paul, and I know it was an honor to have had so much time with him.


Karma said...

I'm very sorry for your loss. I wish you and your family (and especially your kids) comfort.

Jeffrey Cohen said...

Thank you so much for kind note, Karma.

Jennifer Lynn Jordan said...

I'm so sorry to hear this. My thoughts are with you and yours.

Dr. Virago said...

What a moving tribute to a complicated man. I'm sincerely sorry for your loss.

Jeffrey Cohen said...

Thank you so much JLJ and Dr V.