7:25 AM yesterday: Margie and I left him laying prone in PreOp, turned and headed out. He was valiant, but looked vulnerable. Clearly, my little brother was going to have a long day.

I haven’t addressed his ordeal here because, quite frankly, he reads this. Moreover, he logs on for escape. To expound would have been no less than selfish and, I would say…unbrotherly.

A full half-day later as sun shone through the massive windows at UH his surgeon emerged….

The operation went well.

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

‘Twas the night before Christmas, or thereabouts when they confirmed a tumor.

“Yes, Bruce,” Hal told me. “That’s the word they used.” The biopsy had been taken and would dictate the next step. As two long holiday weekends book-ended the wait for results, my brother smiled. Still, even in keeping things light, it was there…and we all thought about it. At times you could cut it with a knife.

Then, shortly after New Year, it was what it was. Surgery was scheduled for the 21st. Then the 15th. Then Thursday, January 14.

Hal and Margie were troupers. Each was candid, positive and hopeful, and with their lead we kept it real… Me? I was caught between an unquestioned faith that G/d would take care of H and my angst in seeing his uneasiness, sensing his fear, and knowing he was in both emotional and physical pain,

But he kept peddling—my brother did. Sharing feelings more than his custom, remaining focused—for not one second did he lose his sense of humor. Heck, it was a tool that moved him forward.

Like his intermittent prefacing of comments with “I should only live so long.” Or his reminding of the ongoing family premise that Aunt Helen would outlive us all.

When he first scheduled surgery Hal asked that we sing kareoke one night. We did so, just last Friday. It seems so long ago. Margie, Hal, Caroline, Amy, me. Oh, yeah….and a special guest appearance through the snow by seventy year old Cousin Sheila with her walker.

Not unlike others, Hal has a “go-to” song— the tune he’s mastered and sings with unabashed confidence. His is the semi-hillbilly Johnny Rivers/Charley Pride “Mountain Of Love.”

“Standing on the mountain looking down on the city…”

I know….I know….. I love my brother, but THAT song?

Anyway, last Shabbos was no different and Hal went with it. Again. But not until he’d first brought a stool center stage and held the mic as Sheila crooned “My Man.” (Editor’s Note: if Fanny Brice was not dead, our cousin’s rendition would have killed her.) In all, each of us, fortified for Hal’s upcoming fight, took turns in solos, duets, groups. We WERE family.

The night was pure fun and my brother not only had a drink, but later urged his daughters: “Do you want to do shots?” We were one.

It was not family alone that flanked H this week. Little Herb, (his nickname post-Robin Beckerman), was inundated with love from not only his myriad of friends, but co-workers as well. By phone, by email, by osmosis. From boyhood friends The Nemos, to adult pals. There were prayers in Jewish temples and prayers at Catholic masses. It was a full court press for this sweet man. From the rabbinate at Park to the throngs assembled by Doug Mandel in Israel. (By the way, what IS the plural of “mishaberach?”)

In a world where all we have is today, my brother honored today. He thrived this week not only because he always answers the bell, and not only because G/d protects him, but because, as hokey as it sounds, my brother Hal lives high on a Mountain Of Love.

2 Responses to “MOUNTAIN OF LOVE”

  1. alan wieder says:

    very powerful, very warm

  2. Stuart says:

    Speedy recovery to the man who drove an aqua chevy chevelle with the monikor Wild Nemo.

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