My grandfather Max Bloom died 50 years ago today. I was too young to remember him, but my mom told me many stories about him. She adored her dad, and she used him as a model of what a man should be. This is why, for better and worse, he shaped me to be the person I am today.
Max got involved in the community. He organized scrap drives as a teenager during World War I. Mom told me that he got a commendation from President Wilson. He was actively involved in the Masons and their charity work. We still have his Mason certificate, and his pin is somewhere in storage.
He put his family first, and he often made sacrifices for them. Mom told me the story of how she wanted a rose gold Gruen watch. Grandpa gave up lunches for a month so he could surprise her with it as a gift. We still have that watch.
As much as Max Bloom was an inspirational story, he was also a cautionary one. His sacrifices cost him his health.
He developed heart disease at an early age. This caused him trouble in his career, and he had to move to several places until he took his family to Los Angeles. When Mom started at UCLA, he had a bout of illness that caused Mom to drop out of college so that she could take care of him and things at home. Fortunately, he lived long enough to walk my Mom down the aisle at her wedding and see his grandchildren be born. He died at age 66.
When I studied for my bar mitzvah, I took his Hebrew name, Mordecai, as my Hebrew name. I still remember Mom lighting the Yartzheit candle at the anniversary of his death and going to Yizkor service during High Holy Days to honor him.
Grandpa Max is an example how people can shape others and leave a legacy long after they’re gone. Even their shortcomings can teach us to be wiser people. I will always look up to him as an exemplary person. His memory remains a blessing.