The year was 1909 and my grandmother, Perel Tunis, ob”m, was expecting a baby at the age of 35. The doctors told Grandma that carrying a child at such an “old age” would put her life in danger but Grandma believed that G-d should be the one to decide her fate. With unshakable faith, she told the doctors that if G-d wanted her to live, she would and if not, G-d forbid, she wouldn’t, but she felt strongly that she would indeed give birth and it would be to a son, who would be in her words, “the best one of them all!”
Grandma’s belief was, thank G-d, fulfilled. She gave birth to my father, ob”m, Avraham Moonish (Manny) the baby, an only son, because her other little boy, Henoch, passed away, unfortunately, at a very young age.
Daddy had the most amazing sense of humor. He used to joke that his four older sisters were so busy fighting amongst themselves that they had no time to give him any grief!
When he was 11, his oldest sister took him aside and informed him that as the only son, he would be responsible for supporting Grandpa and Grandma in their old age.
He most certainly fulfilled his parental obligations but this did not keep him from being a fun-loving kid!
He loved to take bread and butter sandwiches out to the fire escape so he could read to his heart’s content.
A teenage athlete of some note, Daddy was excellent at track and handball. However as Sabbath-observant Jews, Grandpa Tzvi forbid Daddy from participating in a track meet scheduled to take place on Shabbos.
It is not surprising therefore, that Daddy was an amazing dancer.
When my parents married off their last child, my younger sister Civi, we honored them by performing a dance especially for them. After we finished dancing, Daddy, already in his 70’s, proceeded to dance in front of Civi and Jeff! The photographer captured the shock and delight of the onlookers who clapped their hands in time to Daddy’s agile steps!
Daddy loved to write poetry as well. One of his pieces was published in The New York Herald Tribune newspaper.
But most importantly to us, Daddy, an accountant, was as honest as they come.
He and my mother were on the same page, when it came to believing that Hashem sees everything one does every moment of the day. One must be honest and straight in business dealings and in any interchange involving another person, no matter what his color or creed.
Daddy was disturbed to have found many errors in the (accounting) books of the company where he was working. He felt a sense of pride in knowing that he saved the company a good sum of money when he straightened things out.
But most importantly, Daddy’s insured that a minyan was available especially if there was a mourner who was required to say kaddish.
His resolve in this respect would come into play the very last time that I saw him.
It was a hot Friday afternoon. Daddy and Mommie had done their monthly shopping in Brooklyn and afterwards came over to see their pride and joy: their grandkids. Daddy had just resumed driving after having undergone cataract surgery. He had also undergone cancer surgery within the past year. He looked very tired so I entreated my parents to stay with us for Shabbos.
Daddy told me that he couldn’t because if he wasn’t in shul, there would be no minyan as many families went to their seaside homes for Shabbos.
I still wanted to do something for him. He loved chocolate so I ran to the fridge and got him a bar to take home.