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It’s been too long, the sound of that phrase doesn’t even come close to describing what it feels like.

My Father in-law Lenny; of Alice and Lenny died last month.

Leonard Ruback; 21 Tevet 5684 – 28 Cheshvan 5772

We; my wife, her mother, my daughter and I went to Feldman’s Mortuary to pick out Lenny’s coffin. It was a Friday, the day after his death, it was also the day after Thanksgiving. Amid tears and irrational conversations between my wife, her mother, and the funeral director, we were able to determine that he was to be dressed in an undershirt, underwear, plaid shirt, and blue denim jeans. A pair of socks and slippers were added as an after thought, because he always suffered from cold feet. “Yeah but he’s; never mind”… I didn’t get it either. We had also convinced Alice that the small coffin on display was merely a mock up and they would not be folding Lenny into thirds in order to fit him in the coffin. Not only is my wife’s side of the family directionally challenged, the concept of a mock up seems to escape some of them as well.

Being a pallbearer is one of those things that you don’t have much time to prepare for, a few brief instructions 10 minutes before the service is about all you get.  A plain pine box was what he had requested, it was a soft yellow pine with wooden rails for lifting.  Images of someone dropping a corner, or one of the wooden hand rails breaking off kept popping into my mind. The tiny staples holding the corners together suddenly separating when it strikes the ground, at 32 feet per second squared. These are the Nightmares and Horrors of a first time Pallbearer

As I listened to the Rabbi’s service I found myself staring at his coffin; the workmanship was simple, and I was distracted from the service as I looked at the tiny pneumatic staples that had been used to secure the corner nearest to me. The Rabbi spoke with confidence as he recited what he had prepared, it was the perfect service. It had indeed captured those things that lovingly described the man in the plain pine box; evidenced by an audience nodding and tearfully remembering with the Rabbi that which was Lenny. I nodded and smiled too, as I counted staples; two staples to a board, eight boards high, two panels to a corner; thirty two staples per corner. I was about to calculate the volume of the box when a sharp elbow from my wife brought me from my Mensa Moment, as five men stood to take their place next to the coffin.

By getting caught up counting staples and boards per side I had missed most of the Rabbi’s service; but it didn’t really matter as I had lived most of it with Lenny, Alice, and my wife.

Talk to ya later.

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