Friday, April 23, 2010

Tsaddik


This is Andrew. The husband of my mother-in-law's cousin, he is no real relation to me, except in spirit.

There is no way to adequately convey the loveliness of old Andrew, except to repeat what Sarge has often said: that Andrew may very well be a tsaddik, one of the true righteous, living secretly among us, "for whose sake alone the world is not destroyed."

A good, righteous man. Funny, kind, quiet. Once a long time ago, he was an Army Air Corps boy, then a young man who worked hard for his family and played minor league baseball in his spare time ("I loved the way he smelled when he came from a game," his 87-year-old wife confided in me recently. "All sweat and sunshine--he was so sexy, I would lean in and sniff him...")

Devoutly Catholic, now eighty-nine, Andrew is one of the more open-minded and curious people I've met, with great tolerance for differences. He attended a Passover Seder I hosted and followed along in the Haggadah with great interest, asking questions and joining in the Hebrew and Aramaic songs. When it was over, he took my hands and thanked me for the service and the matzoh ball soup.



He is the only real grandfather Hedgehog has ever known. When we visit Texas, Andrew goes out early, trundling patiently along to help my daughter fill the birdfeeders and spread corn for the deer who come to graze on my mother-in-law's land. I love to watch them every morning from the picture window, industrious in their task, often returning to the house hand in hand.

Yes. Tsaddik.



Notes on the photo: Andrew, a Technical Sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Corps (later became the Air Force), circa 1944. Ratlesden RAF Base, England. The plane with the wonderful nose art, a B-17 G, was later shot down over Belgium, although the pilot survived.

38 comments:

savannah said...

what a lovely story! i think sarge is right, just based on your words and the smile on hedgie's face in that picture! xoxoxox mabruk!

Tracey said...

Oh how lovely. I loved the term 'other-in-law' though I did not know what it meant. I was a little disappointed to see 'mother-in-law' a little further down. I guess it was just a typo, but now you have me thinking.

sEAN bENTLEY said...

Your daughter's name is Hedgehog, eh? Nice! My daughter LOVES hedgehogs but I'm not sure she's ready to change her name.

L. D. Burgus said...

What a neat post you have here. I really like how you described this very kind man. Great blog.

xl said...

Thank you to him and all of the other brave ordinary yet extraordinary airmen who fought the air war in Europe.

Tom said...

everyone should have a grandpa like that!

Baino said...

Gorgeous story and I'm so glad he's still around. So often the sepia stories are about people long gone. He has a kind face .. .surrogate grandpas are often as good as the real McCoy, Hedgie's lucky to have him around bless his cotton socks. It's ANZAC weekend here, tomorrow we celebrate/commemorate the anhilation of Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli, It's a sombre reminder of what young men did to keep us free.

Ronda Laveen said...

What a lovely soul! He was very handsome when he was young. I could almost smell him after the basball game. Thank goodness for us there are tsaddik's in the world.

Jimmy Bastard said...

An interesting man indeed hen, and him with a real Scottish name to boot. The photie took my attention, it has greatness of charcter throughout, and tells a tale of the subject himself.

There is something about that particular era which has a hypnotic effect, and coupled with the plane in the background leaves me with many questions unanswered.

nick said...

He looks a very kind and devoted man. And that's a lovely picture of him and Hedgie looking after the birdfeed.

kylie said...

it would seem to me that the name tsaddik is about the highest honour anyone could have bestowed on them.
and who better to do it than you, leah?
congratulations to you both

just bob said...

Andrew seems like a great guy and the kind person I wish I had as a grandpa growing up. Thanks for sharing.

tony said...

I want to shake Your Tsaddik By The Hand.What A Fine Man.

Nana Jo said...

Reading your post was a gift of grace this morning. I had not heard the term 'tsaddik' before, but my heart understands its meaning. My mother refers to people like your Andrew as 'the salt of the earth'. My husband is another of them. I think open-mindedness and curiosity hand-in-hand is one of the most beauiful traits a person can possess.

The nose art is wonderful, as is the photo of Andrew and your daughter on their morning quest.

John Hayes said...

He sounds like a truly wonderful human being--I love both photos, but you can really see his spirit in the one with your daughter.

Vicki Lane said...

What a wonderful post! I've always loved the concept of the tsaddik -- how lucky you are to have one in your life!

Martin H. said...

It's probably Andrew's open minded philosophy that's helped to get him to 89. Sounds like a really lovely man.

Hunter said...

Very much enjoyed this, Leah.

C.M. Jackson said...

what a great story--you are blessed to have Andrew in your life!

Libertine said...

It's a wonderful story of a wonderful person.

Betsy said...

I think Hedgie looks like you! ;)

Love the story of the leaning in for a sniff...sweat and sunshine. That is just TOO cute!

Subby said...

Like to meet him, I would...

And from that top photo, looks like the cameraman had his eye more on the nose art, heh...

corticoWhat said...

"The righteous man is rewarded with life for his fidelity." Very nice post.

willow said...

What a sweet man. Tsaddik is a term that's new to me. Lovely, lovely post that brought me smiles. Thank you.

Pat transplanted to MN said...

Never heard the word tsaddik before.. but it sounds like he is one! I knew it was WWII nose art when I saw the plane photo. Very interesting tale

Megan said...

New word to me, too. I like it! What amazing luck to have a person like that in your life.

Sorry to hear the Belle didn't make it through...

Delwyn said...

Hello leah

thank you for your visit to my sepia post. It is great to meet you and hear your story of the kind and gentle Andrew.
Your daughter is lucky to have the company of this relative as a surrogate grandfather and you are too. I love the way that his character is written across his face...and he looks very fit and healthy still for 89...I hope you enjoy and appreciate his company and wisdom for many more moons.

happy days

mapstew said...

Some people are just 'GOOD'!

Andrew sounds like one of the 'GOOD'!

My Da was one of them! :¬)

xxx

Alan Burnett said...

What is so good about this post (and so clever about this post) is the way that you seem to get over the marvelous nature of Andrew so effortlessly. His good nature seems to illuminate the whole post. Nice post, nice man.

Madame DeFarge said...

He sounds like the sort of grandfather we'd all love to have and reminds me of mine, except mine played ice hockey.

Poetikat said...

Aw! What a sweet man and what a lovely way you have of relating it to us. Your daughter is fortunate to have such a shining example of a grandfather (whether or not he is, technically is of no matter).

Tsaddik. I shall remember this word.

Thanks, Leah! Nice to see you here again (I hope I haven't missed any of your SS posts.)

Kat

Barry said...

"Tsaddik", hmmmmm? First time I've encountered the term; but I'm very glad there is such a word.

Not that I've met many people who would be worthy of it, but I guess that's the point.

I love learning new things, and I love meeting Andrew today.

neetzy said...

Thank you Leah. I've never heard the word Tsaddik before. These posts are so wonderful for sharing culture and customs. Love the painting on the plane as well. There is something about sharing seders and sacraments that enrich our souls.

Harnett-Hargrove said...

How very VERY wonderful to still have him around to enjoy and hear stories. -J

Scarlet Blue said...

Every little girl needs a Grandad.
Sx

Pat said...

Andrew: a lovely name for a lovely man.

Pearl said...

That's a really nice story. I didn't know the word "tsaddik" and am very happy to add this to my vocabulary.

Pearl

Karen ^..^ said...

Awww, I love this story. I love that he and Hedgie are such buddies. So sweet. I always wanted a grandfather.