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