Merry Christmas 2010
My Friend, My Teacher - Saul Friedman

Saul Friedman 1929 - 2010

Yesterday, on 24 December, Saul Friedman died at home on Chesapeake Bay surrounded by his family. His 23-year-old grandson, Benjamin T. Hall, wrote this remembrance to share with Saul's many readers.


As I sit here with a hint of scotch on my breath, watching the smoke from a cigarette roll upward, turning into something beautiful, I’m wondering where to begin. Today perhaps.

It is the 23rd of December, my birthday, and the cold in the air seems appropriate. My breath as I walk down the street. More smoke. Where does it go?

Now that I sit here, in these shoes I have so desperately wanted to fill since my youth, I am at a loss of words. I have always wanted to write, just like my Grandfather, Saul. I never anticipated writing about him or to an audience so close to his heart.

As Saul has alluded, and at times forthrightly said, he has been handed many small miracles in his life. He has been given music and been afforded the opportunity to grow with the music he loved, ranging from the Beatles to Chopin, up until his very last moments.

As he lies in bed, taking in the breaths that will be his last, Frank Sinatra, John Lennon and Ludwig van Beethoven accompany him. He shared his love of music with me many years ago when he gave me Beethoven’s piano sonatas, a gift I cherish to this day.

My favorite sonata will always remind me of his beautiful, tremendous nature.

Saul was once given the idea that things were not always as they seemed.

This simple idea led him to pursue a knowledge of philosophy that forever changed his life. He said this much to me two days ago during a conversation from his hospice bed. The bed lies beside the window to give him a view of the bay he adores so much.

Over the years we too have shared this love for a deeper understanding of things, which is how I have come to truly understand our friend Nietchze when he said

“The poison which weaker natures perish strengthens the strong - nor do they call it poison.”

Witnessing the greatest man I’ve ever known wither away, his mind peeling apart like the leaves of the grandest tree, will not kill me. His wisdom has assured me it will make me stronger.

I find solace in knowing Saul has helped so many people; that Saul truly cared for people the way he implores others to do. His work in politics has always been so profound because he has been more concerned with the consequences rather than with the present actions. His entire life has been based on the sole belief that people can, and should, be better to one another.

Spend an afternoon with his family and you can meet some of the most caring, genuine people on the earth. He has shaped his two daughters into women who care and give and love, women who never take the world for granted.

I know Because my Mother is a teacher whose students share holidays with us.

I know because my Aunt is a psychologist who takes feral dogs off the streets of L.A. and turns them into house pets; house guests really.

I know because my Grandmother, Evelyn, has been able to put up with Saul for over 50 years. Another small miracle if you ask me.

Saul Friedman is still with us for the moment, but the moment can never be everlasting, no matter how wonderful it may seem. He is resting comfortably and soon will be comfortable enough with what he’s done for the world to leave.

By the time this lamenting rambling of a mourning grandchild is before your eyes, the eyes of the Friedman family may be filled with the tears of the unknown future, a future we will have to find our way through without the guidance and love that only Saul could provide.

However, our faces will hold smiles of remembrance for the times we’ve been able spend with this beautiful, tremendous, unbelievable, blue-eyed man.

Written with sadness and gratitude,
Benjamin T. Hall

Comments

I am breathless with this, Benjamin. You are clearly your grandfather's own.

I've been grateful many times in the past months for Saul's exhortations, advice, explanations and reassurances to us here.

A grand man. May your family take comfort in his memory and in each other.

So we celebrate the life of a treasured friend on this Christmas Day. The joy has been to know your grandfather who so enhanced our lives. Thank you Benjamin, for your words of comfort during this time. Dee


Benjamin,

Your Grandfather's passing will leave us with a sense of loss that will be difficult to overcome.

We looked forward to his columns for his knowledge, his
integrity and the way he made even the most complicated subjects a little easier for us to understand.

He will be missed.

Our deepest sympathy to you and to your family.

Oh Benjamin I am so sorry for your loss, and also for ours. I am saddened to hear that I will no longer have the privilege of reading your grandfather's columns. He sounded like such a wonderful person. Thank you for writing this and sharing his last few moments with us. I am glad he died peacefully and surrounded by loving family.

My sincerest condolences to you and your family. Take heart that his wisdom and kindness will live on in the all of us whose lives he touched. He was a great and loving man!

I am sorry to hear that he has died. You are right, he contributed a lot to the world and seemed to live it fully right to the end. That's a blessing. Condolences for your loss.

Oh, a world without Saul Friedman. Benjamin, you said it perfectly with "By the time this lamenting rambling of a mourning grandchild is before your eyes, the eyes of the Friedman family may be filled with the tears of the unknown future, a future we will have to find our way through without the guidance and love that only Saul could provide."
I feel a little like an orphan myself on this Christmas day, experiencing a small bit of what you and your family are feeling.

Benjamin, you are a hauntingly exceptional writer.

In your words, I see a man who will continue to discover the truth about life, in your own way.

Please accept condolences from a retired teacher and writer from Montreal.

I never missed a word your own Saul put on this blog.

You will never be without Saul.

Benjamin -- thank you for adding your love and respect for Saul to ours. He will be missed horribly -- and his essence will live on in the people and even the policies he helped make better.

Do pass our condolences on to his whole family.

"Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis?"

This is an old Irish blessing - "May his sweet soul be on the right side of God".

But I would change it to:

His sweet soul remains with his readers.

A wonderful man. I am heartbroken for you all. And for me.

XO
WWW

Saul was truly a great man - and a true writer till the very end. His clarity and eloquence in written words have helped me many times on this forum. You, Benjamin, have inherited that talent; use it well and wisely, as your grandfather did.

I'm saddened by Saul's passing, and will miss his weekly posts. However, his soul will indeed be at peace now for he lived a life of caring deeply for humanity.

I, too, am truly saddened by Mr. Friedman's passing. He wrote beautiful prose that at times verged on poetry and he shared - so much, so well. I grieve for you, his grandson, for his family and for all of us who were lucky enough to have "known" him through his words. I, like so many others, will miss him greatly. My sincere condolences.

Benjamin, my beautiful nephew,
My pride and love are boundless. Dad would be so proud; no, wherever he is smoking that cigar, he is proud. Your aunt

"His entire life has been based on the sole belief that people can, and should, be better to one another."

No one can leave a better legacy.

The earth is the poorer for his passing - but our lives are the richer for his living. Your sorrow is our sorrow.
Blessings Be!

I am so sorry Saul's vital light has gone out of this world. I treasure his words and my thoughts are with you and your family.

Dear Benjamin, Thank you for this lovely glimpse of your Grandfather and your love for him. What a wonderful man. I see where you come from now. With love, admiration and many hugs to you and yours. Aunt m

Dear Benjamin,

Your grandfather was what my Irish grandmother would referred to as a grand fellow. He had great intelligence, wit, and could tell a good yarn.

I can't imagine what it must have been like to grow up in his shadow, but I do hope you manage to fill his shoes.

Please accept all my heart felt condolences and know that each and everyone of his posts got me thinking and challenged me to delve into the matters he thought important. My husband caught me crying over your post and asked whether I knew Saul, and I could only answer that I might not know him, but I did have great respect for him. He will be sadly missed.

all the best,

Lia

Saul Friedman, a man who was loved and valued by many who never even met him. How fine is that?

Saul will be with us always, Ben. I wish I could have met him, and will always treasure those moments I spent reading him.

I wonder if selections of his writing could be combined into a book.

This music slection was very appropriate to your posting. I enjoy it and your writing as well.

Reading that Saul is physically no longer with us saddens me. I will miss his writing here but celebrate the memory of him.

My sympathy to you and your family. Thank you for your heartfelt sharing of your loss at this difficult time.

What a beautiful American Treasure lost to those of us who remain suspended in time waiting for the next Washuington, D.C. kick in the fourth point of contact (an Airborne phrase, sorry) to occur. Mr. Friedman...Saul...
would alert and explain it all to us, for sure: A Brilliant Writer, A Great Man, and a Very Good Person.
We are all less well off with his passing. My love and prayers to the Family;and Grandson, your GrandFather would be very proud of your
Special Rememberance of him.


Blessings to you and your family. Your grandfather's eloquence echoes in your voice. Keep writing! What a gift he has left for his family and for us as well who have been gifted with his words and thoughts. I will miss his voice.

My sincere condolences to Mr Friedman's family and friends. I just went back and reread one of Mr Friedman's posts that I had bookmarked. It's more personal than usual and especially poignant to read again now. It's from Dec 18th, entitled "Small Miracles", and it's about embracing life fully.

Dearest Saul,

Thank you!

I am saddened to hear of Saul's passing. Just a few weeks ago, I wrote to him to let him know how much I valued his writing and teachings. I will miss reading his wise words. My condolences to his family. Farewell and give 'em hell in the next life, Saul! DH

I have known Saul since he wrote for Newsday's Paper on Long Island. We corresponded personally through all these years. To his family, his many readers and friends, I had so hoped he would conquer all his many illnesses. He gave me hope I would conquer mine. I Shall miss him so much.
Sleep well, Saul. with no more pain. Naomi E.

I have known Saul only through his writings here, but felt his impact anyway. What a writer. What a good man. Thank you, Benjamin. I have no doubt but that your grandfather would be very proud of you and what you've written here.

What a great and sharing heart has gone from us. I learned so very much from him in reading his writing here. I am saddened for you and your family's loss, Benjamin. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings on Saul and giving us this time to say goodbye too. The great and giving heart of Saul Friedman obviously lives on in you.

Dear Saul - May your memory be for a blessing. I thank you for enlightening me with your writings and I shall cherish, even though I never met you, the words that you have written. May your rest in Gan Eden be peaceful and your Memory be for a blessing with the rest of your family. Todah Rabbah Saul for bringing so much light into my "aging mind"; I will miss you.

I have been reading Saul's words since he started with Newsday and e-mailed him when Newsday started charging to read the paper online. (I had moved from Long Island to SC)
He wrote back to me saying that he was upset and would be writing in TIME GOES BY and I could read there.
I have been e-mailing him at different times thru the years and he has always given good advice and always felt more like a friend. He and his words will be sorely missed.
Anita Borow

Saul will be deeply and sorely missed.

Your words are like balm, so sweet and filled with feeling. Thank you for sharing the sad news with your lovely writing....it softens the blow...just a smidgen.

I am so sorry. I read Saul's columns at various times for many years--regularly since discovering the TGB blog. He was an exceptionally skilled, articulate writer and obviously a caring and concerned man. He always stood up for the ordinary people of the world and urged the rich and powerful to remember us. What greater legacy can there be?

What a wonderful man! He will be missed.

What beautiful music to accompany Saul on his journey.

Thanks for the many memories on this blog.

Ben, I have just read your tribute to Saul. What a loving grandson you are. I know he is smiling down on your family, and saying how proud he is of you. You have a lot of memories to keep you going. My sincere sympathies to Evelyn and your family.

Ben, you have received the gift of your grandfather, and you have learned well. It is evident as you write of him. He will continue to guide you through life....I loved the thought that he taught you that people should and can be better to one another. I will be thinking of you and your family...

Thank you for sharing this glimpse of Saul as grandfather. He will be missed by many.
My sympathy to his family.

Benjamin, thank you for sharing your touching tribute to the grandfather you obviously adored.

Grandfathers are very special people, aren't they?

My sincere condolences to you and the rest of the Friedman family.

I just read the sad news of your grandfather's death. I feel like my heart will break.

To say that you love a man that you have never met is rare. Yet I feel sure that I speak for many of his readers when I say that we loved and admired him for his wisdom and great gift of imparting it to us.

His inspirational columns will be sorely missed. You were blessed to have such a wonderful grandfather and he was blessed to have a talented grandson to carry ono.

My condolences to you and to Saul's family. Your loss is enormous, as it ours.

I was too overcome by the beauty of your sentiments about your grandfather when I read them last night, so could not post a comment then. Your words touched me so deeply with all that love and admiration shining through them. What a legacy he left to you....one, I might add, that you seem qualified to assume in his honor.

Thank you for sharing with us *your* grandfather. I am an elder law attorney from LI and your grandfather and I had many conversations about his astute, well-researched articles which affected our mutual audience. Overall, though, your grandfather was a kind man who never once made a comment on my blog without a compliment to match. I hope that you find comfort in your memories of Saul today, and always.
Best,
CD

Ben,

Thank you for one more memory of your grandfather and the opportunity to know that he has left a wonderful legacy to and through his family.

I was one of your grandfather's many contacts. He would call me on occasion when he had questions about Medicare - legislation, administrative policies, problems -for his readers and then for himself. Saul was a gifted reporter and person. I am glad that I got to know him.

May Saul's memory be a blessing to you, your family, and to all of us.

Just opened my Newsday Long Island NY and the headlined obituary is for Saul.I am so saddened by his passing. For many years I read and enjoyed and was educated by many subjects in his "Gray Matters" column.Unfortunately until today I was not aware of this blog, "time goesby".I will now avail myself of all the wonderful columns I've missed.Ben,you've got your Grandfathers' gift. Your words made me cry. My sincere condolences to you and your family. I hope this blog will remain posted so that I can catch up with all the past articles. Rest In Peace Saul. You were a gift to those of us in the Senior Citizen Community.

He may be gone, but his words will live on. I'm sending a recent column to a friend who has made a personal crusade of launcing attacks on Fox News whenever and wherever he can. He'll be delighted to have some ammunition from Saul to fire at the bad journalists.

Saul was a great journalist who wrote from the heart.

Dear Benjamin, You have grown to become a sensitive and caring grandson that would make any grandparent proud. Your eloquent writing is a credible testimony of your talent and your grandfather is smiling down on you for sharing it. With love, Your cousin, Gayle

In my youth Saul was a mentor, friend and father figure. He led a life well lived with honesty, passion and love. We should all be so fortunate.

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