This past November I became a member of “Club None,” as my father passed away leaving me parentless, an orphan in my late 50s. There are no words to describe the empty feeling entering this New Year as a member of the dreaded “Club None.”
Sure, there is a bit of blessed relief after watching a parent deteriorate and become a different person than the parent of my youth and younger adulthood, but I still wouldn’t wish this membership on anyone.
As Yom Kippur drew near, I found myself staring at the Yahrzeit candles in my local food store. Conveniently they were at the sale price of three for one dollar. Three? I only needed one for each parent. But then I remembered that I was supposed to assume the yahrzeits of my late parents. I got busy digging through my parents’ paperwork in search of the dates of passing and Hebrew names of my grandparents, aunts, uncles and other relatives. It was a tearful exercise as I discovered old photos and notes in my parents’ handwriting. Slowly the chronology came together as I berated myself for not recording my parents’ verbal history of my family tree.
It became apparent to me that my apartment’s fire code would be violated if I lit yahrzeit candles in memory of all my relatives whom have passed.
Then I remembered that third yahrzeit candle and it all made sense as I created my own personal new tradition.
The third candle will represent the yahrzeits of my parents.
This is where halacha meets creativity and personal meaning.