|Talia and Asher 4/14/13|
Thank you all for coming here today to celebrate Asher Avior with us. The journey to this day has been longer and more challenging than usual, but we are so thrilled to finally be here.
We wanted to take this moment, before explaining his name, to thank a lot of people. We first of all want to thank everyone at Anshe Chesed for all of the support and help that they have offered. Three weeks of dinners, driving Talia to the hospital, babysitting, and even providing us with a Pesach seder at the last minute. There are too many of you to mention by name, but you should all know how grateful we are to you. Abraham Joshua Heschel once said, “A religious man is a person who holds God and man in one thought at one time, at all times, who suffers harm done to others, whose greatest passion is compassion, whose greatest strength is love and defiance of despair.” We are certainly blessed to belong to a community filled with such men and women.
We also deeply thank our family, who has gone out of their way to help us, even from afar. Whether it was taking Ezra for a weekend, coming here and grocery shopping for us, donating blood for Asher’s transfusion, or shepherding Talia to the hospital and on errands, we greatly appreciate all that our siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins did to help us in a trying time. But most of all, we want to thank our parents. You have done all of the above and more. We may have survived the last 2 months without you, but it would have been much more difficult! Thank you, and we love you very much.
Talia, I just wanted to say a few words to you. And I had thought that you had to go through too much with Ezra. For those of you who don’t read Talia’s blog, here are some of the major events. Losing over 1/3 her blood, starting the c-section without anesthesia, and of course being a brave NICU mother for almost 2 months. Your strength astounds me, your courage inspires me, and our 2 boys are the luckiest to have you as a mother.
Asher is Hebrew, meaning Happy. Which is apropos, as he has already brought us much happiness. Of course, if this was the criteria for naming our children, then we also could have gone with a name meaning Worry or Sleepless Nights. But instead we went with Asher, mostly because it sounded better.
Asher has already proven to be a strong boy. And at 10 weeks old, he is 235% of his birth weight, so we know that he is a good eater. And we know that he is patient, but only to a point. But Asher is still 9 days from his due date, so there is little that we actually know about who he really is, no less the man he will one day become. His name, then, is our hope for him. Our hope that he lives the life of his choosing, and that he finds happiness and satisfaction in all of his life choices.
Asher’s middle name Avior was given for his great great grandparents, Grandma Helen and Grandpa Abe. I was very blessed to have my great grandparents in my life for as long as I did. I know that it is a rare and valuable gift. For Abe (or Abram, Hebrew Avram), we chose Avi. And for Helen, of Greek origin meaning Shining Light, we chose Or, Hebrew for light.
Growing up, my great-grandparents were always a presence. They lived in Florida for most of my life, and my family took yearly trips to vacation in Plantation and Palm Beach to visit “Grandma and Grandpa.” They were lively and kind people. My grandfather, the first in his family to graduate from college, was still playing tennis well into his nineties. My grandmother, so loving a person, left behind grandchildren who would later argue over which one was her favorite. She made each and every one feel so loved and so special that my mother and her 3 siblings all genuinely believed they were the favored.
“The first time I met your great-grandfather,” Grandma would begin with a smile on her face, “I was seventeen years old and he was nineteen.” I was eight the first time I heard the story. “I was at my girlfriend’s house for a sweet sixteen birthday party and we were playing Spin-the-Bottle.” She blushed slightly, remembering what I could not understand. “He spun the bottle and it landed on me. We kissed the first time we met.” In a later story she would explain how they didn’t speak much after that evening – they hardly knew each other, really, but they would meet up with each other a few years later. “He rode a bus all the way from the city every night just to court me,” she said proudly. At eight years old I didn’t know what it meant to court someone, but I did know that my grandma and grandpa were something special.
When Grandpa died, my great-grandmother was devastated. He was ninety-seven years old and lived one hell of a life. But he was gone from hers. “The first time I met Abe,” Grandma began as I sat with her two months after the funeral, “I was seventeen years old. He was just nineteen.” She sat with a tear in her eye. “He was so handsome then,” she remembered. I was seventeen when I heard the story for the last time of how my great-grandparents met, and I thought about which story I would tell my great-grandchildren. All of them, I decided. Starting with Grandma and Grandpa’s. Two days after my great-grandfather’s unveiling, a year and a half after his passing, my Grandma died at the age of ninety-five. They were married for seventy-two years. Together, they lived one hell of a life and they lived to see so many of their offspring – two children, seven grandchildren, sixteen great-grandchildren. And now, in the name Avior, they will forever be together.
I wish that my children could have met Grandpa Abe and Grandma Helen, because I know how special they were, and how lucky that made me. But since they could not meet them, my hope is that they grow to be like them. People who value education, cherish family, and are loving, caring, and thoughtful human beings.
**It has been brought to my attention that certain ages may be incorrect.