Wednesday, November 22, 2017

My father passed away.

It was terribly sudden. My brother Peter called me from New York at 11:30 PM Israel time. That is not a normal time to get a call, I knew something was wrong. It was between the time that Peter was telling me that Dad suddenly fell unconscious, has no pulse, is not breathing, but the ambulance hadn't come yet. This is what he was telling me on the phone. Shock. Peter said he was just talking to him seconds beforehand. He was fine. Then he wasn't. It was quick. Probably a massive stroke. There was no chance of resuscitation. He was 87 years old. He is survived by his sister, 9 years older than him.

I flew to New York the next night, on heavy pain killers and in business class. I arrived at my parent's house at 7:00 am, and the funeral was at 1pm the same day. Thankfully Robert flew with me, but unfortunately he flew economy class, and also unfortunately he caught a nasty flu. We're not in great shape, but at least we're together. I'm so grateful for that.

I'm sitting shiva at my parent's house. It is so strange without my father here. I miss him terribly.
I'd like to share with you my eulogy, like I did after my mother passed away 17 months ago. Here it is:


Honestly I really can’t believe he’s gone. I’m trying to write a eulogy for a man, for my father, who is still quite alive for me.
He always has been so very alive. My father was for me my sense of humor, my joy of life, my unconditional love. We very much had what might be a typical father/daughter relationship. We were very close, and we seemed to always understand each other. He was a very, very, special, gentle soul.
It seemed to me that he always had time for me. He read me bedtime stories every single night for as many nights; as many years as I wanted them. Even if it was the same one over and over again, he had the patience to repeat them. He worked long days, commuted long hours to and from work, and undoubtedly wanted to relax at night. But he always had time and energy to read me bedtime stories. My entire life was made so rich because of that time he had for me.
He was such an interesting and complex man. His intelligence was undisputed with his research, his PhD thesis, his famous patents, and his ability to discuss a wide variety of scientific subjects anywhere, anytime, with anyone.
But there were some things that did not extend over the complete horizon of intelligence… but nonetheless were completely ubiquitous and lovable about Phil Kashin, “the man, the myth.” There was the ever present stapled and duct-taped slippers, the seemingly never ending supply of taped and slightly crooked drug store glasses, the track suit that he wore every day that seemed to always be 30 years old. ...And if we’re on the subject of duct tape, I seem to remember it holding certain parts of our family cars together, as well. But don’t get me wrong, Phil Kashin was really a great engineer-- he really could fix things-- like almost anything you gave him to fix. There was a mantra while we were growing up- that was “Daddy fit it”. He fixed toilets, electrical issues, car motors, our bicycles.  He had a complete work bench in the basement with every sort of tool necessary, and a few unnecessary as well. I watched him use a wood vise, and every other sort of tool imaginable, and that was how I learned not to be afraid to fix things while I was living on my own. I still have with me in Israel the handy hammer and screwdriver set he bought me when I moved into my first apartment by myself in Boston.
Like most people of his generation, he was influenced by the great depression. You must turn off every light when you leave a room, you must test a battery before throwing it away, and you must save and fix anything that is fixable… in HIS opinion.
Spiritually he would say he’s agnostic; that he doesn’t believe in G-d. But he was one of the most spiritual people I ever knew. He thought very deeply about spirituality and the meaning of life. He didn’t mean to, but he gave me a strong sense of spiritual purpose and connection to G-d, even if it was different than the connection he sought and perhaps never found. But I believe he was always looking for a connection. He was always asking me questions- challenging me about my choice of becoming religious. It was within those challenges that he was still seeking his own answers. But like so many people of his generation who saw the Holocaust happen right before their eyes, the answers would never satisfy him.
My father; he danced around the living room with me when I was young, he sang Yiddish songs to me, we joked around together constantly, he taught me how to ride a bike. He picked me up on his shoulders and gave me rides around the house….. He was a free spirit tied to a somehow hurt soul.
But he & I had the key to free each other’s spirits.
I pray that his soul is no longer hurting; it is now in the world of Truth, with Mom, which is the only place he’s really wanted to be for the past 17 months.


  1. So beautiful. I am glad yo appreciated him because you said "typical father/daughter relationship". It looks like you had something atypical. All you have to do is ask 10 people and you will see it was not so typical. You were very blessed.

  2. Dear Sarah, I have read your beautiful eulogy and am thinking of you and your family. Love, Emily

  3. Your relationship with your father was definitely not "usual" as he was clearly an unusual man. May you find comfort in your wonderful memories.

  4. A beautiful tribute. I'm sorry for your loss and your pain.

  5. So sorry to hear about your dad. I remember him well -- a very sweet mensch. I also recall your story of how you mentioned to your mom that you thought his mannerisms were cute, and her zesty rejoinder was, "Sarah, don't marry 'cute'!" ;-)

    Warmest regards to you and your family, including your brothers.