Gordon Davidescu wrote this article.
Sunday morning, December 30th, 2007 seemed like just about any other morning. It was to be the next to last day of the year. How could I have known that it would have been one of the saddest days for me? I suppose the first thing that should have alerted me that something was wrong was that I noticed that my father had called – rather early, actually. I didn’t want to admit it to myself but the first though I had was that my grandmother had passed away. Then again, I had previously had this thought when either my father or mother had called in unusual circumstances and I was wrong then.
When my father called again I knew something was definitely was wrong. When my father called to tell me that my grandmother had a stroke of chance
I was totally unprepared for it. I answered the phone in my normal
jovial mode and was quickly sobered by the sad news.
Now I had a feeling it was coming. In a way I had been preparing for
the moment for the last five years and ten months – or at least since
it was made clear to us by doctors that she was unlikely to recover
from the stroke.
I tried to think of how I would deal with losing my grandmother. I
failed every time and cried like never before. Even though I had spent
so much time preparing for the bad news I had an entirely different
reaction than I was expecting – I started thinking in practical terms.
I had some practical preparations in mind from a few years ago during
the Monsey exile – I knew that my father wasn’t going to do certain
things that I, as a more religiously observant Jew, might have done in
I had already asked about what happens when
someone doesn’t say kaddish
for their parent and there is nobody else to say kaddish for them – and
I already asked about sitting shiva. Rather, what happens when someone
doesn’t sit shiva for their parent.
Even though I already asked all these questions I felt the need to ask
them again because the circumstances seemed a lot more real and a lot
My father told me that I could say kaddish for my
I started asking around and most people said that since both of my
parents are still alive, it wouldn’t quite be appropriate for me to say
kaddish for my grandmother. I tried asking some friends of mine and
came back empty handed – it’s a huge obligation to ask someone to do
something for you three times a day for eleven months sans
I ended up hiring someone, as it were, to do it. It is a tradition that
if someone can’t say kaddish that they actually pay someone to do it.
We’re not talking about a chauffeur’s salary – yet not insubstantial,
The person told me that they would take whatever I could manage. The
question came up of what my grandmother’s father’s name was – an
important detail in the world of saying kaddish. I wasn’t sure and the
name that was going to be used was going to be Avraham – which works in
cases where one doesn’t know a father’s name since we believe that all
Jews descend from Abraham – yes, even those that are “Jews by Choice”
as some people would say.
A little later I asked my mother if she knew and, by happy chance, it
seems that my great grandfather’s name was in fact Avraham – which is
where I got my middle Hebrew name – Gedaliyah Avraham ben Shimshon is
my full Hebrew name, in case you were wondering.
I have many wonderful memories of my grandmother that I think I would
like to share with you all over the next year or so, if you are
interested. My grandmother lived a long and wonderful life and I will
miss her quite a lot.
Irina Davidescu – March 25, 1911 – December 27, 2007