Larry Perelman, RIP
I just returned from my father’s funeral. He died at 98.
When I was young, we were not particularly close. He more than encouraged me to become interested in business and to participate at the Temple. I was totally disinterested in both activities, preferring to play sports. As I grow older, we became closer, even though we lived 3000 miles apart. As he grew very old we became much closer.
When he was about 92, he began to have balance problems. Not only did he have to give up golf, but he suffered frequent falls. His bruised body looked like must have played upon a game of professional football the day before.
He resisted using a cane, then proved equally resistant when he had to use a walker. Yet, at each stage, he would tell me about how much he liked his new cane with new walker. The wheelchair he lifted the same response.
When I would talk to him on the phone, he would tell me he was doing just fine. Later, his wife, Frances, would tell me about the latest fall. An operation to remove cancer from his intestines he described as a little thing. Yet when I arrived in town the next day, he looked terrible. I was sure he was going to die. The following day he was demanding to leave the hospital because of his dissatisfaction with the food. He loved to eat!
He loved my mother, but he loved his second wife Frances better. Losing my mother and my brother in quick succession, followed by a long period of sadness and withdrawal, led him to an astonishing ability to appreciate everything.
He suffered the indignities of old age with incredible dignity. And he learned how to appreciate even the smallest pleasures. When I would call he would tell me about what a wonderful time he had, when Veronica, one of his two wonderful caregivers, wheeled him in his chair and he got to see some ducks on a nearby pond. It was as if he had great adventure they had given him incredible joy.
We went to Florida a couple weeks ago. I figured it would be our last time. Sadly I was right.
A series of mini-strokes made speech difficult. You could start a conversation pretty well, but after a few minutes he was slurring. He apologized for the speech, but there was nothing he could do. A strong mind was trapped in a failing body.
The last time we spoke on the phone me neither of us could understand the other. It was a very sad occasion.
The next day another mini stroke and a one-day visit to the hospital. A couple days later, he surprised everybody with his energy. He made a series of phone calls to grandchildren and his only surviving brother and then spent the rest of day holding hands with his wife. He was saying goodbye. On the next day he was gone, but he went on his own terms. I miss him.
Thanks to Frances, Susan, Bob, and Veronica and Vivian for giving him the extra good years, which he appreciated so much.