Time to Talk About Jacob
Since this blog is in memory of my son, I felt it’s about time I talked about him. I have so many good memories of him and I don’t want to forget them. I figured I’d better start writing them down. What follows is more than just a series of anecdotes. These reminiscences are an insight into his goodness of character and his caring about others.
The Big Bug
Jacob was living with us so he could save money before going to law school. For awhile, he had an internet marketing job which enabled him to work from home, so he would closet himself in his room with his computer and the dog. (More about the dog later.) Rarely did he come out of his room unless it was to walk the dog, get something to eat, or run an errand. Sometimes we rarely saw him.
At that time, we were living in Southern California. The warm desert climate hosts a variety of large insects. One evening, I opened the door to the bathroom cabinet and saw something I’d never seen before. It was large and brown. And it was moving. Now I usually don’t scream when I encounter an insect. But when I saw this big brown bug, I screamed. My fear was also fueled by the fact that I didn’t know what it was. So I ran to the living room and screamed to my husband:
‘There’s a monster in the bathroom!’
I was hysterical, speechless, and didn’t know how else to describe it. My husband went into the bathroom and killed the insect which we later identified as the American cockroach. In North America, this is the largest species of roach and can grow up to four inches long. Thankfully, the one I saw wasn’t that big but big enough to frighten me nonetheless.
Upon hearing me scream, lo and behold, Jacob emerged from his room. He said he wondered what I was screaming about. My fear dissipated when I saw that despite wanting to be left alone to do his own thing, Jacob cared enough to see what was going on. After he saw things had calmed down, he promptly went back into his room and shut the door.
Covid Toilet Paper
Jacob would do the grocery shopping for the family together with the arduous task of carrying all the bags into the kitchen by himself when he got home. Even when he went shopping for his own needs, he would keep an eye out for something I might want. Shortly before the Covid situation got really serious, I got a phone call from him as he was shopping at Target. He said:
‘Ma, there’s hardly any toilet paper here. The shelves are almost bare. Should I get some?’
We had a few rolls left and I didn’t yet know toilet paper was soon going to have the status of gold. I said:
‘Ok, sure, buy a package.’
He came home with one of those mega-roll packages. It was only because of Jacob that we had enough toilet paper to sustain us through the worst of the shortage.
Jacob would give me birthday and Mother’s day gifts. Even when it wasn’t a special occasion, he would think of me. On a high school trip to Seattle, he came back with a very nice glass paperweight depicting the Space Needle. Another year, when his class went to New York, he brought me a cup decorated with pictures of M&Ms and the M&M logo. (I love M&Ms.) Knowing my passion for the yellow minions from the movie Despicable Me, he gave me three plush little fellows and a minion coffee cup.
He loved getting gifts for his little nieces and nephew. The toys he got them always seemed to be their favorite ones. He thought about them a lot and enjoyed getting new pictures of them. He would always ask how they were doing.
Making Family Dinners
When he noticed I was tired at the end of the day, he would offer to make dinner. Sometimes, I would even ask him to make dinner and he didn’t complain. He could bake chicken and boil hot dogs. He would make a great mushroom and barley soup which was his favorite. He had a delicious recipe for rice which included chopped onions, olive oil, and tomato sauce. He also made wonderful deli sub sandwiches. Sometimes I would try to duplicate his recipes, but the food never tasted the same as when he made it.
My Son, My Friend
In addition to being my son, Jacob was like a friend. He was a TV and movie fan, and based on reviews he read, knew what was good to watch. Now I don’t watch TV or movies that much, but I had fun watching with him. Jacob had a keen sense of what I would like and, except for one movie, I really liked the shows we watched together.
He enjoyed a wide variety of genres. We would view documentaries, historical fiction, and super hero movies. From Blue Planet, Downton Abbey, Pixar movies, to Star Wars, we had a wonderful time watching together and talking about what we watched. It was my way of bonding with him.
When I felt low, I could count on him to listen to my tales of woe and complaints. If I had a problem, I could discuss it with him and he would try to suggest a solution.
Sometimes he would come into the living room where we would sit and talk about almost anything, from everyday stuff to politics to Jewish philosophy. I didn’t always agree with his opinions and he didn’t always agree with mine. It was fun just to talk with him.
When Jacob was in college he rescued a little dog from the pound. She was a combination of chihuahua and sausage hound generically called a chi-weenie. She was black with a patch of white behind the neck. He named her Oreo.
When he moved in with us, my husband and I weren’t really thrilled with the prospect of living with a dog. I told him, ok fine, if you’re going to have a dog in our house, don’t ask us to pay for its upkeep and under no circumstances ask us to walk it. Well, he kept his part of the bargain. He did it all. He paid for anything the dog needed, walked it and played with it. He made sure it got to the vet for checkups and shots.
He loved that dog and that dog loved him. She would follow him around constantly. When he went to the bathroom, she would sit erect and motionless, staring at the door waiting for him to come out. The day Jacob passed away, Oreo just stayed curled up in her doggie bed and whimpered. That week, my daughter in law found a good home for Oreo. I think about Oreo sometimes and I hope she’s happy.
Jacob’s Friends Remember Jacob
Jacob’s friends were shocked and saddened at his passing. Jacob was somewhat shy and I don’t think he really knew how much people liked him. His friends expressed their condolences online. Of all the wonderful things they wrote about him, the following remarks particularly touched me.
Remembering His Goodness and Kindness
Jacob’s college roommate said:
“I lost my best friend today. A Big piece of me is missing right now. You were definitely going to my best man at my wedding and it pains my heart deeply that it couldn’t happen. No doubt in my mind that you’re in a better place now because your soul was so pure. I’d give the world to have one more chance to hangout with you again. We hardly took pictures together because we knew that we were gonna live forever. I will forever cherish every single moment we had together. Blessed that I got to live with you for two years. Thank you for your brotherhood, and thank you for being my best friend. We’ll meet again one day.”
A girl who knew Jacob wrote:
“I remember him being the most understanding and patient person I ever known. He was too good for this world. I hope he is resting in peace watching over all his loved ones from above. He truly saw the good in everyone. From our conversations he always had positive things to say about those in his life especially his family members and very close friends. He really wanted to reach every single person in his life always wanting a sentimental moment with them. I remember anytime we talked at Shabbat get togethers on Friday nights he would tell me about his family. His eyes would light up. It was so sweet and loving the way he spoke about them. He really cared for them. I will miss him dearly. Each hug he ever gave accompanied by each gentle smile will be forever ingrained into my memories. He was one of kind. Knowing Jacob he would want us all to be happy. His passing was extremely heartbreaking. However, his time on this earth was more than memorable almost empowering. He will never be forgotten.”
A member of AEPi
Jacob was a member of the AEPi fraternity. Once, he conducted a Passover seder for the brothers who did not go home to their families that year.
He was always ready to offer help. One of his fraternity brothers told us:
“Jacob helped me out when no one else could. During break when everyone left San Diego for LA, I planned a trip to visit my brother out of state but had no one to take care of my pet while I was away. I posted on the AEPi group page if there are any brothers in town and immediately got a reply from Jacob. With me having just been initiated we haven’t hung out more than a couple of times. Still, Jacob volunteered and drove to my place every day for three days to give my pet food. Without him, I wouldn’t have been able to visit my family over break. I’m thankful for having known him and saddened that he left too soon. I will forever remember him as the embodiment of what it means to have a brother.”
I Miss Him So Much
Memories of our children are bittersweet. Some memories are good, some are not so good. Hopefully those not so good memories will fade away leaving us with only good memories of our loved one. I encourage parents to remember all those good times in writing, photos, or whatever media is meaningful.
Jacob wasn’t perfect. There were times we argued. There were times I didn’t like what he did. Like any young adult, he sometimes didn’t appreciate my opinions on what he should do. I’m thankful that those not so good times are fading from my memory. I’d much rather remember the wonderful times we spent together. I’m sure G-d will always remember the sweetness of his character and the kindness he showed to others. May it be a merit for him in Heaven.