I am one of those blessed daughters … Longed for, planned for, and prayed for by both my parents. My wonderful Father Abraham H. Solomon wanted a daughter to complete the family with my two brothers, Sidney and Albert. I was born on his birth-date March 5th (1954). Our closeness and life together all that any child could wish for … Not any less and in some ways even more a joy in my adult life.
When my Father became ill I spent each day with him … I was his escort and company at doctor appointments and during treatment. I organized and pursued – reached out to medical experts who were friends, family members and even those known only through press and books doctors and researchers. I was lucky that my late first husband David was more than supportive … He and my Mother and other family members all devoting time and energy to making those difficult years quite enjoyable and meaningful for my Father.
As Father became obviously nearing the end of his days here with us … Again good fortune presented itself through family and friends who were physicians [board of directors as well] that made sure those last weeks were spent in a large private suite in one of Philadelphia’s best hospitals. I moved in with my Father and despite his being very ill those days and nights were sweet … We chatted, read books, discussed the news. Family, friends, colleagues and some strangers to me that my Father [typical] had helped in one or another way visited … But the majority of time it was we two together – my only leave was when I thought he and my Mother – the love of his life for fifty years – needed time alone.
One of my Father and my life long shared activities was reading … He often would choose this or that classic [one Summer the torture of War and Peace] work of literature for us to read – mind you there was no shortcut for Father expected full and detail conversations to follow and as I adored being all he hoped for I was careful to do the reading in totality. So it was that Father decided [all he had read before of course – being a lifelong voracious readers] a book by one of his favorite authors Victor Hugo … That which many of you became familiar with through the play and subsequent film, Les Miserables. I need to state here the literature in many ways different than the play … Certainly a more broad and nuanced philosophy. Being political active … A civil rights activist and supporter of unions even as a business owner this book’s message very meaningful to my Father. So it was often we discussed Hugo through the years.
In hospital many sent flowers which Father seemed to enjoy … I had my husband do likewise for me even though I was there – asking that Florist where we had a many years account add a heart item of some sort. So it was that three dozen varied colored roses arrived with an attached small crystal heart. I need to mention here that I often ordered gourmet and other foods to be delivered in an attempt to increase Father’s appetite or at the least have him enjoy a tasty bit of his favorite food – and so it was that I was in the lobby fetching just such a food delivery when my flowers arrived one early evening. As I entered our shared hospital suite with enthusiastic glee about the goodies in hand my Father was sitting in a lounge chair my husband had delivered for his comfort, next to my gifted roses with the small crystal heart in his hand … Father looked up at me with tears and said: “Daughter – to be loved as I have been by you my child is to have seen the face of G-d.”. I need not say anymore other than such words and many times in notes and letters from my Father to me were not unusual … However the time and place then made for the deepest of meanings that I carry through life and I pray into eternity.
My Father, Abraham H. Solomon died 12 February 1987 … A few months after his passing my husband David through a colleague had he, I and my Mother invited to a semi private showing of the play Les Miserables – lovely evening for us all in box seats. There we sat in rather formal attire – me thinking of my Father’s fondness for Hugo and wondering what both erudite men would think of this play when near the end as he sits near death Jean Valjean – Father to surrogate daughter Cossette says , “To be loved as I have been by you is to have seen the face of G-d.”. Well now I turned to my Mother nearly shouting that my Father seems to have lovingly plagiarized Victor Hugo … My Mother in her usual no nonsense fashion replied “Oh my – get over it – your Father loved you more than life itself and you should be flattered my darling Cossette!”
So I conclude this essay with a lesson taught to me by my Father and Victor Hugo: To love deeply and unselfishly anyone is to know G-d for is that not what we fragile humans need most – a connection to one another that to me equals a knowing we are that which is favored and known to be worthy!