Judaism looks forward to the day when there will be no longer be any sickness or death. We look forward to a time when G-d will destroy the Angel of Death. Until that time, we have to live the best we can.
We have to battle disease; we have to cope with the passing of our loved ones. And the truth is that it’s very hard to live our lives worrying about what’s going to happen next.
Moses, our great leader and lawgiver, lived until he was 120 years old; his eyesight was not dimmed and he was as full of vigor as ever. It is a Jewish tradition to hope that we will all live that long and that well.
So that is my prayer for every person here, that we’ll each live until we’re 120, and that we will be blessed with health and vigor.
But if it doesn’t work out that way, as it didn’t for our friend Steven Grove, and you have to struggle, then I hope that you’ll remember some of the things that Steve was about.
I pray that you’ll never get sick like Steve did. But if, G-d forbid, you do, I hope that you’ll fight it, that you’ll be your own best advocate, that you’ll be knowledgeable, willing to experiment, that you’ll leave no stone unturned.
I pray that you’ll never get sick like Steve did, but if, G-d forbid, you do, I hope that you’ll have someone like Lisa to stick by you, and someone like Bonnie to care about you more than life, and a good child like Josh who just plain loves you.
I pray that you’ll never get sick like Steve did, but if, G-d forbid, you do, I hope that you’ll have friends like Steve did, who give of themselves, their emotions, their energy and their resources to try to make things a little easier for you.
When you remember Steve Grove, remember what he did in his life.
Steve always lived in this area. He was raised in Hamden with his sister Lisa and brother Scott. His grandparents Arthur and Hortense Gorfain used to babysit but felt that they weren’t needed. The way they said it, “Steve was born 30”; he bathed and took care of his sister and brother. By the way, Steve’s closeness with his grandparents was probably involved in his later work at the Jewish Home for the Aged. Steve’s grandfather Arthur was very interested in Judaism and the Jewish community and this had a big impact on Steve, who was like a carbon copy. As a kid, Steve was always organizing; carnivals for MD were a specialty. He painted part of Temple Beth Sholom to become an Eagle Scout. Steve was 18 when Lisa died. It was very devastating for him and life became both sad and difficult. Despite the circumstances, Steve was determined to go to college. He went to Quinnipiac for 8 years with scholarships from the town of Hamden, the Boy Scouts, the Jewish Home for Children, student loans and Pell grants, and gifts from relatives. And he was always working, as a USY Adviser, working at a radio station where he was very funny, performing magic shows at childrens’ birthday parties. After he was finished, he got a couple of accounting jobs and then started his own practice. This boy raised himself up by his bootstraps, he did it the American way, and his practice just kept getting bigger. He worked hard to make a living, but as hard as he worked, he was always extremely active in the community. He was active in the Kidney Foundation. He was always deeply committed to the Boy Scouts of America, he was Program Chairman; he ran Camp Sequassen, and too many activities to mention. He was a wonderful Big brother; he was very active in Probus, and in the Town of Hamden.
When Steve first got sick a few years ago, he came to see me; all he wanted to talk about was Lisa and Josh. He just wanted them to be ok. No matter how things got during these years, no matter what he was going through, he was always concerned about their welfare. He was very proud of his relationship with Josh, happy with everything they did with each other, all the things they shared. Cub scout camp, Laser tag, go-karts, indoor mountain climbing, Yankee games that were more about the food than baseball.
We all knew things were bad during this last period of time, but none of knew just how fast everything was going to happen. But Lisa was ready to go through anything, and that was a beautiful, giving thing, one that I will always remember and cherish about Lisa.
Bonnie, you and I have done a lot of talking, but in the end, I don’t know what to say to you. What mother has to go through what you have gone through, losing two children way before their times? No human being should ever go through anything like this. I thank G-d that you have your wonderful husband Alan who gives you such great support.
I hope that you will find comfort, and we’ll all try to help.
When we would talk about the people in his life, Steve was always very clear: He loved his brother Scott very much.
Steve’s life impacted on many, many lives; just look around. Each of us has had our own experiences; we are all witnesses to his life. As one minor witness, I want to tell you that personally, I had conversations with Steve that were incredibly meaningful to me on both an intellectual and emotional level. We would talk about all sorts of things, but mostly about people, about working through pain, about finding your way. Sometimes, when I would give a High Holiday sermon that made a lot of people uncomfortable about their lives, it would be Steve who would come to me and say, “Thank you for making me uncomfortable. Thank you for disturbing me and making me face a lot of what I feel. Thank you for making me think more honestly.” It takes a lot of person to say something like that.
I will also tell you that I learned some things from Steve that will stay with me the rest of my life.
Right now, all I can see is Steve’s gaunt face during this last stage, but soon, I hope to see his face as it was. Right now, all I can see is Steve’s fear, but soon, I’ll be able to hear his strong and confident voice talking again. It’s Steve as he was I want to remember.
At times like these, when we go through horrible things, I find myself thinking about how little I know. I see some lives that are too long and some lives that are too short, and I don’t know why. I see some lives that are so easy and other lives that are hard at every step, and I don’t know why. Some of us have challenges that others only read about, some of us just glide effortlessly through life, and I don’t know why.
Since I can’t figure it all out, I go back to the very simple idea that we each have to live our lives the best we can. Steve would say: Work hard, be involved, don’t give up, fight to the end, make it all count, live every day.
We’ve never met anyone quite like Steve. Which is one of the reasons that we’ll miss him so much.
I’ll now call on Ellen Beatty