Charmela Kneller doesn’t know how old he is.

He remembers that when he came to America in 1949 after the second World War, he lied about his age to the people at Ellis Island. He remembers he lied but he doesn’t remember exactly why he lied and he’s not sure in which direction he lied; but he knows he lied and he admits that he lied and everyone thinks that he is charming and if he’s 102 fine and if he isn’t 102 it’s charming anyway so why bother with an old man. So the mayor of Lakewood, New Jersey, is planning to show up at the assisted living facility where Charmela lives…and also where my father lives who happens to be exactly (exactly….and I repeat the word “exactly”) 97-years-old and there’s no disputing it with him. He does know how old he is. He’s vague about other things but he does know he was born in Iwaniska, Poland on April 20, 1922 and there’s no dispute or question-marks there. He also knew Charmela in Poland.

So the mayor of Lakewood is coming in September with the newspapers and they are going to bring cake for Chermela to help this remarkable holocaust survivor from Poland celebrate his 102nd birthday.

And my father says, “You know, I don’t really don’t remember a lot of things. You tell me 97 and I got no reason to fight with you but one thing I do remember is that back in Poland I was older than Charmela. But this is America and maybe he’s older here. So I’m not gonna fight about it.

At the end of times…

I’ve had the opportunity (maybe “opportunity’ is not the right word)….I’ve had the occasion to be with certain people at the end of their lives and these have usually been people I’ve cared for and even (usually) people I’ve loved. And when these events have occurred they have been blessings to me and I am filled with a tremendous sense of privilege to have been in the presence of loved ones at the end of their lives….