Sunday, August 16, 2009

In Loving Memory

I found this memorial among my parent's papers.

When I come to the end of the road

And the sun has set for me

I want no tears in a gloom filled room

Why cry for a soul set free?

Miss me a little but not for long

And not with your head bowed low

Remember the love that we once shared.

Miss me......but let me go.

For this is a journey we all must take

And each must go alone

It's all part of the master plan

A step on the road to home.

When you are lonely and sick of heart

Go to the friend we know

And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds.

Miss me......but let me go.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Richard's Eulogy 7/28/2009

I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have been Milton’s son. He was a very smart, generous, loving, and humorous man. It was my wife, Sally, who reminded me yesterday of the story concerning Dad’s shoes. We were pulling the car into the Nevele parking area for an extended family vacation when we saw Dad pacing in front of the entrance. He always seemed to arrive at destinations first. I think it had something to do with his liberal interpretation of speed limits. I noticed that he seemed to be standing taller than I remembered. It was the shoes- the heels were at least an inch-and-a-half thick.
After we all greeted him, I said, “Wow, Dad, that’s quite a pair of shoes that you’ve got.”
“Yeah, I bought them just the other day. Guess, how much they cost? Only ten dollars.”

It’s a Mann family thing: we have trouble resisting bargains.

“Good deal,” I said. “And look at all those colors: blue, and orange, with pink highlights.” I felt compelled to describe the colors in detail, as Dad was color-blind.
“Yes, yes, and they look rather nice, don’t you think?
I was thinking, “nice if you plan on joining the circus” but I said nothing and simply shook my head, weakly in the affirmative.
That night, when he greeted us at the dinner table in the large dining hall, I noticed that he was still wearing the shoes. I mentioned them again and looked towards my mother who smiled at me, shook her head, and held up her hands, palms facing the ceiling. I’d seen that gesture before. It meant, “I tried. Believe me, I tried, but there is no talking to the man.”
When my father made up his mind about something, it was next to impossible to budge him. After he recovered from his last stroke in November of 2005, he decided he would drive out each weekend to visit Ruth on Long Island.
“Dad”, I said, “You’ve just recovered from a major stroke. You can afford to hire a limousine and relax in the back seat.”
“That won’t be necessary,” he said.
“I don’t want you behind the wheel, risking your own life and the lives of others, travelling at ninety miles an hour.”
“Ninety miles an hour?” He smiled. “It’s more like eighty-five now.”
Once when I visited him on a Sunday afternoon after he returned from Long Island, I saw the wheel of one of those giant trucks imprinted on the passenger side of his car. “I see that a semi made quite an impression on the body of your car.”
“Yeah,” he admitted, “That damn driver drifted into my lane.” I thought that it might have been the other way around, but there was no talking to the man. Over the course of the past three and a half years, Dad had four or five accidents, but miraculously, no one ever got hurt. As my mother used to say, “We were so lucky.”
Dad was only able to attend college for 3 months, as a young man. By the time he was nineteen, Pearl Harbor had been bombed and we had entered the Second World War. He enlisted in the army and entered the signal core. He learned to read and send Morse code at a speed of over forty words per minute and was about to be sent to the South Seas to intercept and decode Japanese communications when he came down with a terrible case of influenza. Many of his fellow soldiers never returned from their assignment but Dad safely spent the rest of the war teaching code in the states.
As an older man, he remained passionate about learning. He went to Montclair College, and in his sixties and seventies, he took numerous classes in philosophy, economics, and literature. How many children have the opportunity to engage in deep discussions with their father concerning Kierkegaard, Kafka, and Marcel Proust? Dad was very proud of the papers he wrote and often gave me them to read.
His passion for knowledge and understanding was nowhere more apparent than in his recovery from his last stroke. To this day, his recovery remains for me a source of the most profound inspiration. For over a month, Dad did not know who his sons were nor did he know who he was. I watched him return again and again to the sign outside of his hospital room, while holding on to the stand that held his intravenous bag. He was determined to put together the bits and pieces of his recently shattered existence and decode the numbers and letters on the sign. “Room 704”, he said, “July 4th! July 4th? No. No. Milton Mann? Milton Mann?” Eventually, he reassembled himself into a coherent whole and lived another 3 ½ years, doing exactly what he wanted to do: going to work, travelling to Long Island, and spending quality time with children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
Dad loved seeing family and he was quite fond of taking us all to the Tick Tock Diner. Just a few days before his final stroke, we were all assembled there: Dad and Ruth, three sons, three grandchildren, and his three beautiful great granddaughters. I have never seen him happier. The workers all knew him at the diner, and when he would signal the waiting staff across that crowded room, they were quick to respond, and seemed to enjoy all of his eccentricities. Once when his grandson, Jake, was hungry, waiting for his hamburger and fries that were long overdo, he wandered into the kitchen to find out what was holding them up. It was like he owned the place. Another time he signaled the waitress while holding his empty glass. She came right over and Dad said, “We all need a little more… mayonnaise.”
“He means, water,” I said.
“Water, that’s right. My boy is right. We all need waaaater.”
Milt even found a way of dealing with the hardship of aphasia with charm and style.
But after this last stroke, when it was clear to all of us that the up-side of a possible recovery would provide no real quality of life, no measure of independence, and that the terms of such a life would be entirely unacceptable to him, my father took his leave of life in the same fashion that he did everything else in his life: quickly and decisively.
I feel so incredibly fortunate to have had Milton as my father and as a grandfather for my two boys, Jake and Isaac. On behalf of myself, and my brothers, Daniel and Gary, I’d like to thank all of you for coming here this morning and being with us on this day of mourning and celebration. My father lived a good and long life.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mom 1940 Dad always used to tell us that every time he hung Mom's picture up on his locker, in the army, it was stolen. People thought she was a "Pin-up girl".
This is Carly, grandpa's granddaughter. I wanted to say how much I will miss the world's best grandpa. He was more than just a grandpa to me, he was also my best friend and my role model. My grandpa has always been a fighter when it came to overcoming obstacles in his life and would never give up in whatever he believed in, even if it came down to a bitter fight in the end. I love that about him, and I bet if you looked around for another man on this earth like my grandpa, you would realize that my grandpa is a pretty special person. Not only was he a courageous fighter, but he also had a heart that gave so much love to other people. Ive been told that when I came home from China, grandpa was the first person I connected with. My mom always tells me that she can still remember me and grandpa dancing in that hallway, looking as if I had known him my whole life, even though my life was just beginning. He has been in my life, since the very first time I came to America, and even though he is gone I will always remember him and keep him close to my heart. I love you grandpa, and may you rest in peace.
Dad and Carly Christmas 2004

Dad and Mom at Rockaway Beach 1945
Dad and Mom at Brooklyn College 1945

Early this morning I received a phone call from the hospital that Dad was doing very poorly and that maybe I should come to the hospital. I called Uncle Mike and Aunt Mary for support because it seemed like this was the end. They picked me up at 8AM, since I was too nervous to drive. We got to the hospital and went up to the ICU. My father's heart EKG was not looking good and his breathing was strained, even with the ventilator assisting him. At about 11AM he expired. The man that helped bring me into this world was gone. He touched so many lives. He will be sorely missed. We all love you Dad. Rest in peace.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mom and Dad's wedding picture 1945
Dad and Carly at the Rainbow School 1999
Last week Carly, my daughter, went to visit Grandpa in the hospital. Dad and Carly have been very close since the day she came home from China. There was an instant bond and my Dad has loved her dearly ever since that day. They had spent many hours together playing and I am sure that she has been one of the highlights of his life (Along with the other grandchildren, of course.).

Carly was quite upset the whole time she was there and just buried her face in our sides. She wanted to tell Grandpa, in a loving way with a little tongue in cheek, that she would marry a nice Jewish boy. This is what Grandpa advised her, in a half serious way, in the past. With me as her spokesman, the message was communicated to my unconscious father. Carly seemed happy that this was accomplished. Carly will always be with you in spirit Dad. She loves you very much.

More photos

Dad in 1940
Mom's portrait 1928

Pictures up to 1950

Dad's mom and dad, Joseph and Fannie in Poland 1905

Visit to hospital 7/25/09

Yesterday, Rich, Anita and I went to see Dad in the ICU where he has been for 2 weeks. He is on a ventilator, a feeding tube going directly into the stomach, 4 intravenous machines, a heart catheter, computer monitor and a device to increase blood circulation in his legs. Despite that device, he now has a blood clot in one leg and both arms. These cannot be treated with blood thinners because the doctors are concerned that they might start the bleeding in his head again. This is a greater concern, at this time. He moves his right arm in a repetitive way touching his forehead. The nurse had to tie a small pillow to his hand to prevent him from disturbing the breathing tube. We talked to Dad but there was no response. His eyes did not open once. The nurse says that he is in a "medium range" coma, on the Glasgow Coma Scale.

Danny had brought in some CD's with Dad's favorite music. The hospital has a Bose radio-CD player right there with the rest of the hospital equipment, in his room. The Hackensack Medical Center is rated one of the 50 best hospitals in the USA. Everything they do shows this. The care is very professional and quite personal. There is no doubt he is in the right place.

We left a 10:30PM. Our thoughts and hearts are with you, Dad.

Please try to refrain from calling me. I can't handle all the calls and still am trying to run our business. Dad wanted the business to go on.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Brooklyn, NY 1942
I am Gary, my father's 2nd son. My brother's Danny, Richard and I have been by our father's side for the past 2 weeks. On July 13th, 2009, our father suffered his 4rth stroke. This, unfortunately, is his worst one yet. Me and my fellow worker, Jerry, were finally able to get him to Hackensack hospital by 3 PM after a morning of craziness. At about 10 AM I called 911 for an ambulance. In about 5 minutes 4 EMS people and 3 policemen showed up at our factory in Garfield. After some initial examinations the EMS people asked him, "What is your name and what is the date." My father answered in his usual ironic style, "Milton Mann and the date is (long pause) July 15th, 2009 (I didn't even know the date myself.)". They informed him that he should cooperate with them and go to the hospital, he declined. After much discussion, I threw up my hands and they left.
My next challenge was to stop him from driving to the bank. Since the policeman refused to take away his car key, it was up to me to prevent an impending car wreck. I was waiting outside for my staggering dad and followed him to the parking lot. Fortunately he was trying to open my car door with his key. Here was my chance. "Dad let me try to open the door." I took the key and put it in my pocket. This did not sit well with my very determined father. "Gary, quit f***ing around with me. Give me that key." I offered to drive him to the bank and he finally agreed. It was quite a trip, but we did make it back in one piece despite the fact that he let go of the endorsed check outside the bank. The wind blew it away, but I was able to retrieve it fast enough to get back to Dad before he fell over. He staggered into the bank, with me supporting him all the way.
After getting back to the factory, he agreed to see his doctor. We got an appointment and off we went with Jerry's help. His doctor examined him and said, "Mr. Mann, you need to go to the hospital now." "I'll go next week." "Mr. Mann, your son and I agree that you are having a stroke. Why don't you go with him to Hackensack Hospital?" "I'll go tomorrow." "Mr. Mann, you need to go now. If they examine you and everything is OK, then you can go home." "OK I'll go." By the time we got to the hospital, Dad could not get out of the car. I got a wheel chair and we pulled him out of the car into the wheel chair. It was quite surprising how well he was doing in the Emergency Room bed, being examined by the admitting doctor. Maybe this was a big mistake. I stayed a few hours and left. They did a CAT scan later; it showed a massive hemorrhagic stroke. This is a much more dangerous condition than his previous thrombotic strokes.
Things have gone from bad to worse with worsening neurological condition, pneumonia etc. Right now he is on life support. Things do not look good, although my uncle Mike called to say that Mary, his wife, massaged Dad's foot and he opened his eyes. When she moved around the room, my Dad's eyes followed her. We hope for the best.
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