Tuesday, March 08, 2005

My Uncle Alex

My uncle, Dr. Alex Silverman, passed away yesterday. He helped me personally in many ways. He provided comfort, emotional support, and food to a kid who didn't know anyone else in Pittsburgh. Once I was finished with college, and struggling to find a job, he helped me find one of those too. He was respected as a pillar of the Jewish community. Though I have had a rocky relationship with my fiancee's family, my blood connection to Alex upgraded me several notches in their eyes.

Alex served as the president of the ZOA of Pittsburgh, ran an extremely successful dermatology practice, was part of numerous service groups, and invested heavily in his community and in Israel. His two sons are both successful, and kind. His judgment could be counted on in all things.

He passed away in the presence of his wife Roz, on a golf course in sunny Florida. I'm glad that his life was one of joy, for himself and for so many others. I think he accomplished this through modesty, hard work, and faith.

My uncle loved to travel, especially later in life. A world map in his house is speckled with pins, attesting to the breadth of his and Roz's travels. I think that Alex died happy, satisfied with a rich and full life. His practice revealed to him the mysteries of the human body, his travels the myriad cultures and miracles of the world, and his kindness allowed him to experience love, of his family, friends, and peers. And though we can feel secure in his fulfillment, his passing leaves in us a great void.

I didn't get to know my uncle well until college; I spoke with him rarely before I came to Pittsburgh. My life has only been blessed by my Uncle Alex's friendship for about the last six years, through periodic visits for lunch, dinner, and holidays. I wish I had known him better, and I wish I could ever fulfill the debt that I owe to him.


Goodsoul said...

In 47 years, I have learned only a few things I would say are really important.

When I heard about Uncle Alex I thought of a happy presence, pickles, and a discerning, and thus more sincere, welcoming so many years ago.

And I thought about Aunt Roz, who met us that first full day we were in Pittsburgh, buying stuff for your dorm on the CMU campus. We found our way over to her travel agency, followed her home, and she fed us sandwiches and chips. I was nervous for all of two minutes, then hated to go.

I had long ago heard clearly, and heard again in my mind that particular quality in her voice that was always, best I could figure, some kind of song always playing in her heart.

I don't know whether Uncle Alex heard that song too, and that is why he was so happy, or if that song was that she held him in her heart.

I realized that I had learned something important the moment I heard the sad news about Uncle Alex.

When my time with someone can be measured in hours only, and I remember them instantly, at the time of their passing, as someone I admired immensely, then from whatever source that admiration flows, I must sip slowly, and aspire to such affect on all those I might meet. Lechiam Uncle Alex.

Aunt Roz, and Ben and Brian, our prayers are with you.

Charles and Naira Johnson

Write Your Wrong said...

I didn't know Uncle Alex all that well, but what I did know, I loved very much. He was a very nice man, and one thing I remember is wanting to know him better. He and Aunt Roz were both so nice to me when they met me in October, and like the rest of our big, obnoxious, Jewish family, welcomed me with open arms, ready for me to stay with them in their home. I am happy to have at least met him; I believe meeting him in person is an experience only lucky people get. I am sure that though his death was sudden, and painful to our whole family, he was one of the luckier victims of heart failure. He wasn't under stress when he passed. He was in love and happy, and well loved. I still plan to come to PA and spend the time with you, Celanie, and Aunt Roz, and i hope that though there will be an absense of his body during my visit, there won't be an absense of his spirit. I love you guys very much.