Here lies our dear father, a humble and righteous, God-fearing man who busied himself by doing Holy Works. Itzchak Eizik, the son of Joseph, passed away on the sixth of Nissan and was buried the following day on the seventh of Nissan. Isaac Miller, Rabbi of Moodus, Conn. 1871-1939 (translated from the Hebrew)
I read this Hebrew-scripted epitaph of my paternal grandfather at the Ahavat Achim country cemetery in Colchester, Conn., on a summer sun-drenched day in July.
I leaned on the five-foot-tall tombstone with my body and placed my hand on its curved surface. I trespassed on the currents of electricity that reached my grandfather’s soul’s teachings. Tears of loss watered my face.
In a moment of transmission, I experienced his love for Judaism, his love for the Holy One, and his love for me, his only granddaughter who followed his European footprints to become the first female rabbi of the Miller/Mlowdowski lineage in America.
Twenty years ago I came to this family grave site with my now-late father and mother, my eldest daughter, and my first cousin. I remember how my father chanted the Mourner’s Kaddish for each of my four relatives buried here (my grandfather and my grandmother, my aunt and my uncle). I remember how we searched for several special rocks to place on top of the stone as a sign that we had been there to visit. (Even in a cemetery one need not be alone.)
This time I walked by myself from grave to grave and recited the Mourner’s Kaddish for all my lost ones. I searched again for the tiny pebbles that punctuated the cemetery’s lawn. I placed them on top of the four graves.
I busied myself with this Holy Work to elevate my connection to the grandfather I had never met.
I rested in his peace.