Some people on the planet are so famous they’re known by a single name: Ghandi, Sting or Madonna. In our little spot on Earth, that person was Papa, my sweet, loving, father-in-law. He never gained fame or fortune, but he was the richest man I’ve ever met.
He was wealthy in the ways that count. Ferdy Rosenfeld’s coffers overflowed with love, patience and generosity. Papa always put others first. Little acts of kindness, especially toward those less fortunate, came naturally to him. He once bought an AC window unit for the woman who ran his favorite taco truck. He thought she looked too hot in the summer-time slaving over the small stove in confined quarters.
The teachers at Davis Elementary, where he was a reading tutor for the last 8 years, say some of the kids regularly saluted him in the hall and called him El Capitan. First graders and kindergarteners who struggled to sound out words found the perfect mentor in Papa. He really was their captain. Twice a week he toiled away teaching little ones, line by line, to learn to read. For him, it was a labor of love.
On Fridays, he always volunteered delivering Meals on Wheels. At 93, everyone on his route was younger than he was! I think he was pretty proud of his get up and go at his ripe old age. He drove that route and then stopped off at that favorite taco truck for lunch … mere hours before he suffered his life-ending stroke a few weeks ago.
Papa won people’s hearts wherever he went. Many of my friends had little crushes on him. Many of my husband’s friends secretly wished he was their dad. Everyone loved Papa and no one was more deserving of that affection. Papa was a gentleman in every sense of the word … devoted, dignified and dedicated to his family.
Looking back on his life well lived, I realize those elementary students weren’t the only ones learning lessons from Papa. He taught me that true happiness must come from within. He lived simply, laughed often and loved deeply. He left the world a better place and that’s the measure of true success.