Ramon and I have meditated over the past months on the meaning of life, death and love: it has brought sorrow and joy, memories and hope. Today, I know my Ramon is now at peace and free of pain and you have come here to celebrate his life and honour him.
Together we sing for him my much loved husband who is on his final cruise, though not necessarily the one he hoped to take this year. Our final pipe dream together.
His body will rest in a place he was part of from its conception and I know that he found the idea of natural burial appealing having visited other such cemeteries with me when this cemetery was just an idea.
He loved being surrounded by people
Ramon has been a part of my life back to our teens and FZY (Federation of Zionist Youth). How can I sum him up?
Community, Caring, Conversation
Community strongly engraved from FZY to NEMS (New Essex Masorti Synagogue) where he often leyned from the sefer torah which came from the United States- the beginning of the torah bank which arose from a chance conversation. He sang haftorah most weeks, read the megilla in full fancy dress rig with an accent to accompany the character, led communal sederim for many years and helped in planning and taking the High Holy day services. There were also the quizzes he dreamt up, and the kvetching. He had looked forward to a long involvement at SAMS (St Albans Masorti Synagogue) but….
Caring , not just for friends and family, driving for patient transport and then going back to university at 40 to study social work (though he had considered rabbinics). He enjoyed his work and helped many vulnerable clients, and advice continued, even after he had to retire, even if he did not always take it himself. We had dreamed of our own family – not to be but he was always surrounded and loved by his nieces, nephews and all his Shul children many who he had taught and who are here today to honour him.
However, he adored his little ones especially our great niece and nephew, his pizza partners to the end and all the other great nieces and nephews who have a special place in our hearts. Even smiling in these last few weeks when his youngest great niece tweaked his nose to encourage silly noises and her brother shared his pickles with him at the hospice.
Conversation continued to the end. Some of our best quality time in the last few months has been quietly talking on the edge of the bed whilst trying to ease the pain in his legs: albeit at 3am. He was a night owl.
our song goes on
Ramon was the party animal. He loved being surrounded by people, chatting and because this never changed, many did not know how seriously ill he was. Can I thank you for the support and scrabble playing, crossword solving and jigsaws and especially Viv and Glenn who have been there whenever they were needed even if Ramon did not think so.
On his behalf can I also thank Naomi his cardiac nurse, James his carer, the district and Marie Curie nurses, our GP and Peace Hospice team and you who have come to celebrate his life.
Ramon, our music together is over but our song goes on. You have been the love of my life and I will continue to embrace and love life for you.
The following was delivered by the writer at his Stone Setting one year later
Tonight I will light a candle for Ramon’s yahrzeit. Today we come together to celebrate life, and in particular his life. Almost a year ago he passed and it seems like a moment.
He was a bringer of joy
Ramon loved travel, music of all kinds, poetry, reading, theatre, rubbish TV, teaching, partying, scrabble, comping, family and most importantly, me. His love encouraged and enabled me during his life and has continued to do so since his death. His attitude to his life-limiting and restricting condition was to grab life and he told so many of our friends to go out and enjoy life, and I know many of you have done so.
We shared dreams of more holidays together ,and I have travelled to Israel and Spain thanks to friends and family who invited me into their homes. We wanted to sing in harmony once more (does anyone remember Ish KaBibble or our musical soirees,?) so today we sing with SAMS choir. He supported me with admin to grow my outside lecturing, it paid off as I go and meet new people constantly which has been a boon to me, and all who had met him could not believe that he had gone.
He is still suffering my experiments (not cooking now) but on his plot where woodland glade plant trials have taken place. I still talk to him and hear his answers – no he is not talking to me, but we could often finish each other’s sentences or know what the other was going to say or was thinking – we were soulmates.
I come and sit with him each time I come to work here, just as I sat with him for many years enjoying our silent times together and for a while tell him what plans are afoot for this beautiful place.
His memorial stone bears the line
אישׁ המבשׂר שׂמחה
This translates as He was a bringer of joy or celebrations – a phrase from his haftorah. I am sure this is how many of us will remember him. Joy not only meaning happiness but also making people feel good, whether by a joke or a smile. Simcha – Celebrations where he was the centre of the party somehow. He was also a herald of good; helping others in their lives with pertinent advice from his social work days, his love and his support. He made synagogue joyous with his erudite and tuneful cantillation and service leading, he had an ability to involve people making them part of a community. Persuading those who were not religious to become involved in other ways – cajoling you into fundraising or communal work.
I was so proud of him in his life and I loved him so much. He is with me always, his memory is blessed, living on in all of us I can truly say
* אֲנִי לְדוֹדִי וְדוֹדִי לִי
Tonight I will light a candle for Ramon; perhaps you will join me and light one too.
*Hesped Team: I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is Mine, from The Song of Songs (Ch 6, Verse 3a)