Monday, September 29, 2008

Shana Tova

Most Jbloggers end their posts with Shana Tova - Happy (Jewish) New Year. I'm a Woody Allen type of guy: He prefers to start off a first date with The Goodnight Kiss, it breaks the tension right off the bat. So to all my fellow Jews - Shana Tova. And to the rest of my loyal readers ( all 15 of you ;P ) - there are only 91 shopping days until Christmas.

I'm currently unemployed. Well, that's a bit melodramatic. I'm in between jobs. I handed in my hospital ID and I'm starting my next job after the holiday. This period has been marked by emotional ups and downs, and has been punctuated by finding a used car. (After prolonged exposure to used car salesmen - I doused myself with chlorhexidine.)

Despite my rugged exterior (hah!) I've found myself becoming more emotional and even sentimental lately. For example, I was recently promoted. Rank means very little in the IDF reserves. There is no monetary reward for higher rank. And really the best man for the job is the one who does it even if he doesn't wear the formal rank. Often a private or a corporal will do the job strictly done by an officer according to merit. So I've never really put much emphasis on rank per se. The ceremony was a very informal affair attended by my commanding officer, his commanding officer and a few others, some in civilian attire. The most important guests were my parents. My CO said a few words, and before the changing of my insignia, I asked to say something. I explained to the small assembly that I enlisted 23 years ago as a "lone soldier". In the IDF, that usually means a soldier whose immediate family lives overseas. Here, family follow their children's milestones and attend the various ceremonies. In my case, the end of basic training when the recruits swear allegiance to the state, the end of tank commander's school, and officers school. I was physically apart from my family during all these ceremonies, although I never felt alone or deprived. I never felt sad, probably because I was young and suffered from that eternal malady of youth - the illusion of complete self-sufficiency and self-importance.

I explained to the officers present that this small unassuming ceremony had special importance to my family because it was compensation for all that my parents had missed. At this point I got all choked up. I seem to be developing into a sentimental fool in my old age. Usually one's commanders place the new insignia on one's shoulders. In this case it was my parents who performed the honors.

This past weekend I was privileged to meet the parents of a former patient who are neighbors of the Treppenwitz's, with whom the Sandmen spent a wonderful weekend. Again I became pretty emotional. Their son was injured while serving as an officer in the IDF. Treppenwitz wrote about him and I recognized the description and wrote to him. Thus began a beautiful friendship (Sorry Bogart!) .

I'm not sure why I've been getting so choked up lately. I suspect that my move to another hospital, the end of an era, as it were, has opened up a Pandora's box of pent up tension and feelings.


Anonymous said...

This plain, unassuming ceremony was very emotional for us too. For years your father and I lived with the guilt feelings of not being there for you in person if not in spirit and in our hearts. Thank you for the honor and the privilege. We are proud of you and feel lucky to have arrived to this day.


Mom and Dad

(& see you tomorrow)

Jeffrey said...

great post. thanks for sharing this.

i think its certainly heartening that your parents get to put the new insignia on you. i was fortunate and blessed enough that when i was commissioned, my parents put the ranks on for me, one on each side. my girlfriend was there as well. i recall it was a proud moment for us all.

all the best in your time of transition. :)

rutimizrachi said...

Okay, so I got choked up during my reading of your post -- I'm at least as old as you are, if age means anything here -- and after reading what your mom wrote, a tear.

Maybe part of growing older isn't just hormonal. Maybe the most important part is understanding what matters.

Mazal tov on your promotion. May your dear parents live long, healthy lives, and share many more of your joyous moments.

Baila said...

Mazal Tov, Sandman. I think endings and beginnings are always very emotional. Of course, you're older and wiser now and you now know what you missed by being a "lone soldier". How blessed you are that your parents were able to be there for this event.

And your service to our country and people is very much appreciated.

Stethoschope said...

Shana Tova gam lecha!

Best of luck in your new beginnings: year, job, and of course, career as a sentimental.

Take care!

Karl Newman said...

Congrats on the promotion! Reading your posts over on Treppenwitz, I didn't realize you were a reservist. Are you still a tanker or did you shift over to be a medical officer?

Karl (US Navy Reserve, soon to retire)


QuietusLeo said...

Thank you all for your kind comments and wishes.
Karl - No longer a tanker. During med school I was transfered to the medical corps. However I served several years as the medical officer in an armored batallion.

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