December 11, 2010 – Dad’s Unveiling

In Judiasim there is a ceremony done around the first year anniversary of the death.   This ceremony is done gravesite to honor the person we have lost and to mark the end of the mourning period.

My siblings and I have teased through the year that no one in our family dies in a warm month. Mom died in February, Grandpa January, and dad in December. I promised everyone that I was NOT going to do his unveiling in December that we would do it in the fall as no one was to stand out in the freezing cold as we honored my father one last time….aaaannnndddd…weeellllll I ended up eating those words.  With my travel schedule and getting everyone coordinated we agreed upon doing the ceremony on Sunday December 12.  We contacted people, asked folks to make some food and agreed to move forward with the unveiling. 

When home in September we all went to the monument company along with Penny and we worked out the arrangement of the headstone. We wanted to put something special on the back of the stone to honor dad and the people who were his “core team”. So we put in small letters In Appreciation of Your Love and Wisdom and we put a bunch of names underneath. The odd thing is there was already and engraving on the back on my dad’s side so we had to do this on the back on mom’ s side. Sort of weird as we did put dad’s girlfriend’s name on the grave. Sorry mom but we had to honor her as Carol did take good care of dad and gave him piece of mind his last year alive.

We had a touch of a snafu because the weather got bad on Sunday so Rabbi called me last week to cancel the service. I told him we couldn’t because we had an investment with plane tickets and food and could we move to Saturday. This technically isn’t kool because Saturday is still the Jewish Sabbath. Rabbi told me he had to think about it. He called me the next day after watching the weather and said he wasn’t hip about moving it but Saturday was supposed to be nicer so if we did it towards the end of the day he could live with that.  We called everybody and moved it to Saturday afternoon. I wasn’t sure how many people would come with this change but we ended up having a lovely group of his friends come. Many said they weren’t missing it and they still miss him very much. Dad is buried on a lovely country road where there was a farmer training a sleigh horse up and down the road when we arrived. The cemetary is in the middle of this farmland. No one from the Butler synogogue showed up because when we called to make the change the “bully of the synogogue” got very angry with us for doing it.  Where is his heart to my father who was a long time participant of the synogogue. It was a  sad to me that they couldn’t understand our predicament and come “do the right thing”. What I and I think the rabbi found equally as touching is that no one there was Jewish other than us Goulds – and yet they all showed up to show their respect not really knowing why they were there or what they were going to do at the grave. I teasingly told Rabbi no one here but us Goi. I know Rabbi thought it was odd that no one was there from the Butler synogogue since it was their cemetary. I emailed him on Monday and told him why no one showed up. I also teased the rabbi that he probably never in his life did a Jewish unveling where no one there was Jewish but the 3 family members. He also laughed at this and said that was true. I was sad for the people of Butler that they chose not to come for  it is their loss of missing out on such a lovely ceremony and the true meaning of friendship.

As we started the service we were blessed with the sun shining through the trees, 40 degree weather (as 3 days later it is now 13 degrees) .  I wanted to start the service off ,which I did, by reading a letter that dad wrote to his parents when he was in the process of moving to Kittanning and he owned the practice a whole TWO WEEKS. Everyone  enjoyed hearing his story and there were a lot of giggles. I ended my letter portion by saying now we know the begining of dad’s Kittanning story, we all standing here as his friends at various parts of his life so therefore have a good idea of the middle and together in friendship we are going to close it out. I turned it over to the rabbi. Rabbi did a couple of prayers in English and Hebrew, explained the meaning of the unveling so people could follow along.  He had Lois, Bruce and I take the shroud off the grave to reveal dad’s side of the headstone which made us all weepy. Next, Bruce did a short reading from dad’s favorite Rabbi Twersky.  At this time of the ceremony Rabbi asked everyone to find a small stone to put on top of his grave in rememberence. To let the spirit know they were there.  This was sweet as people found their pebbles we all ended up being in a circle around the headstone. Since we had people there of so many different religions we all stayed in the circle  and recited the Lord’s Prayer as the end of the ceremony. Being the Gould’s that we are we all came back to the house for food. I was secretly relieved the rabbi didn’t come because nothing was kosher in our offerings. What I was thrilled about is that everyone at the graveside did come back to the house. I didn’t expect everyone to come because of other holiday plans but that wasn’t the case at all. I know dad in heaven was very happy with his last service.

This officially concludes my dad’s final story and he is going to be sticking to it.


His #3 child – Claire

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