Today is Sunday, November 7th, 1999

I went from Brooklyn, with the D train, to 34th St. in Manhattan. From there, the PATH train to "Grove Street" station in Jersey City. It was Clear Sunny Breezy day. I walked few blocks west, to where I wanted to go. I didn't remember the address, but I knew I would recognize the street, the black low fence & the green door.
Because its Sunday, as I thought, the Hat factory store was closed. I couldn't speak with Walter (The sales man, in the Hats Factory store), before I entered. It is awhile... that I wanted to visit Mr. Shacknaw (don't know the right spelling).
The story began, around May 1999. When I lived in Jersey City. One Shabbat, after Joe returned from the hospital, and joined us at shul... he mentioned that there is a Jewish old man, Very sick, in the same hospital he was in. Joe said he thinks the man is alone, with no visitors. I thought that it would be very nice of me, to visit him. Each way, it took me about 10-15 minutes. Usually, down Griffith St., through Palisade Av. To "Christ Hospital". After lunch, I went.
I found his room, easily. Next to his bed, layed Barbara, his daughter. Grandmother herself. First impression I remember from Mr. Shacknaw,is that he tried all the time, to keep his black Kippa on his head. He was very very wick. He was in his upper 80's. I think he had cancer. I spoke with Barbara, about her & my families. It was an interesting talk. I set there for awhile...
All that was after I returned from Israel... & I knew I would like to move out, from where I lived. Unfortunately. I told Barbara about my plans. And she said, that if I want and like the apartment, and the area... and if I wouldn't mind to assist her father at home, when he will get stronger... - So, I can live in there's apartment, no charge... and be helpful during the nights. Barbara offered that if I need to store my stuff, before the summer... I can do it in the apartment. And we will talk about what will be after the summer. (I will make the story short. Some of it I wrote in my little diary). After Shabbat, Regardless to what we spoke (Barbara & I), I visited Mr. Shacknaw almost every Shabbat; and have been in touch with Barbara weekly. When Mr. Shacknaw returned home, I visited him once or twice. Most of the time he was in the hospital. The summer came, and Barbara allowed me to put my stuff, as 'spoken. It was very kind of her, and it helped me allot. Toward the end of the summer, I brought more stuff there.
Then... about a week before the end of camp, I found that place in Brooklyn. I called Barbara, told her about it, and said that even so... I will be in touch and will help whatever I can.
When I brought my stuff the second time... I saw Mr. Shacknaw getting fed. He was very wick. The caretaker was very nice and patient with him. After the summer (end of August) I came to take all my stuff. Mr. Shacknaw been prepared, and the lady dressed him up, for going to the hospital. "He complain about stomach aches" the caretaker and Barbara told me. Mr. Shacknaw shouted in pain: "Help me, Help me" often. Barbara called from her home in Indiana (I think). I told her that I will visit Mr. Shacknaw in the hospital, as soon as possible, that (or the following) week. BUT I didn't!!!
Since I moved to Brooklyn, I didn't come there, to Jersey. I had allot of work with the OU. The High holidays. And settling down in Brooklyn... are few of my excuses. I felt bad and guilty all the time. Around Rosh Hashanah, I sent a postcard to Barbara, apologizing about not visiting her father. I left her a message on her machine. She didn't replay. I understood. At the least I thought I understood...
Just today, after more than two months... I went there. I wanted to visit Mr. Shacknaw. Sit next to him. Tell him about Israel, he was so interested in...; Mr. Shacknaw, maybe, was very wick and sick. But his mind was clear. He knew exactly what he wants. I rang the doorbell. Was no answer. The next door neighbor was cleaning his car. I asked him if the old man at home, or in the hospital?! The guy said: "The old man??? He died last month". I was shocked. I had a sense of something like that. The guy's mother was standing next to him ... "But, the lady still there" she said. She said she will call the caretaker, to open the door for me.
Margret - Mr. Shacknaw's wife... was laying on her bed, in the same position I saw her, two-month age. I don't know what she have. Maybe Alzheimer?! The caretaker left, back to her house. I told her I will close the door when I will leave. I set next to Margret's bed. Her blue eyes staring strait to the window. She is not moving at all. Maybe she tried to say something, because her mouth moved and some voice exit. One of her hands moved too. And some fingers; I was very sad. I sat there a couple of minutes and cried. I looked at her, and asked for her forgiveness... and admitted that I was supposed to come, and I didn't.
The neighbor asked, before, if I am a friend?! I said: "I thought I am".
I feel awful, terrible, bad. But it isn't enough. I am guilty. What should I do? How should I repent? Even before this case... I knew I am bad. I came here, to New York, two and a half years ago. New life. New friends. New everything. And couldn't keep the few friends I had. Couldn't help as much as I really wanted. Couldn't be there, for Mr. Shacknaw.
I liked Mr. Shacknaw. I liked him very much. I didn't escaped. I didn't run away. I just didn't!!! Didn't do what I was supposed to do. Didn't do the right thing to do. It is too late now. Too late to ask Mr. Shacknaw to forgive me... Too late to do better. Very much too late!!! Is there a way?

This is my confession. Please judge me! and tell me what do you think. Please advise me, how to repent right. What should I do?

The next day, I called Oscar. He told me that Mr. Shacknaw died on August 27th, at home, between 13:00 to 15:00. I checked my calendar. It was Friday afternoon, few hours before Shabbat. It says that whoever die in "Erev Shabbat" is a Tzadik. Yes he was, Mr. Shacknaw Z"L.
Baruch Dayan Emet.

* I wrote the above, really, as a confession. I thank all my dear friends that respond, comfort, advised and help me through this difficult experience.

** I must add, another experience I had with Mr. Shacknaw. I was there, in the hospital, when a hospital official woman, came into the room and asked Mr. Shacknaw to please sign some papers. It seemed to me that it wasn't the first time. Mr. Shacknaw was very upset with her. From what I understood from their, short, dialog, is that, by signing those documents, the hospital authorize by the patient, when time will come, to connect him to machines.
Mr. Shacknaw didn't want to listen. The lady asked him to speak with his daughter... And Mr. Shacknaw said: "She don't know anything", and sent her away. Mr. Shacknaw was very upset. We didn't talk about it, at all.

*** This story taught me a great lesson, about how short is life, and how to appreciate & value it. And how important it is to do the Right things, when you can. Don't delay it for tomorrow. It might be too late.

**** I don't remember, who told me, that Mr. Shacknaw beried in LakeWood, NJ. Few weeks later. I got friend's car, and headed to LakeWood. It was a snowy Sunday. Chilly day. I had no clue where should I look. I thought that I will find someone. Except directions, nobody knew anything. For about an hour, I searched among the new graves area. Maybe...; But found nothing. The car stoled often, So I returned.

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