I spent an afternoon with Jan reminiscing about Jon in preparation for his upcoming 10th anniversary memorial. We found pictures of his life with Jan and later, Dana. We shared remembrances of Jon and Jan when they lived in New Haven, where they met. And of Santa Barbara when Dana was born. Of their life together in Rockville. I left feeling like I had been in his presence all day.
Its probably a cliché, but I really felt it was an honor to know Jon. His soft voice and sharp wit, the cleverness of his mind, his enthusiasm and support of everyone. The twinkle in his eye when he smiled. He was a mench. In these writings, Jon’s voice is crystal clear. The depth of love for his son, brother, and wife are also evident. They moved me to tears as I typed them. I hope this selection will inspire your own memories of Jon.
Who is Acki Juster? Acki Juster is champion of the world.
Ack, remember when we were little, we shared a queen sized be in the small upstairs bedroom. At bedtime, before we fell asleep, we’d lie on our backs with our legs bent, knees up. Our knees were mountaintops and we jumped from knee to knee with our fingers, running from the monsters and the bad guys. And then here came Acki Juster. Acki Juster to the rescue. He saved us. He beat up the bad guys. He beat up the monsters. Who is Acki Juster? Acki Juster is champion of the world.
Acki Juster is Arthur Rosenberg. Arthur Rosenberg is champion of the world. My perfect brother.
I went out to MacDonald’s on account of I had this terribull craving to be American and MacDonald’s is so American and stable & all. America is where its at. My whole problem is that I’m about 2 weeks ahead of my time. Don’t forget to write.
P.S. I’m making Saturn. Don’t forget to make the rings.
Sun March 18, 1973
I like to think about New Haven in the 60’s. I like to think about us in New Haven, about Olive St. and Pine St. and York and Chapel Streets. We were so happy. We never had more than a few dollars in our pockets, but we had the music and bell bottom jeans, the embroidered dungaree jackets and the beads, and all the people, just like us, thinking the same thoughts, listening to the same music. I don’t remember what year it was. I don’t even remember what season it was. We weren’t wearing coats, so I think it was early fall, a mild fall evening. We were out walking the streets of New Haven, Easy Rider had just opened at the Whitneyville theater in Hamden. I had parked my blue, 2-door Chevy Belaire on some side street, High Street maybe, and there was plenty of time to get to the movie, the theater being only 15 minutes away. We had a couple bucks worth of gas in the car, but no money to buy theatre tickets. This was not an insurmountable problem. Sure, we didn’t have any money, but we did have the streets of New Haven, and people just like us, walking the streets of New Haven, who knew about Easy Rider and not having enough money in your pockets. And so, while you waited on the street corner, I panhandled. There was no shame, no shame in not having any money, and certainly no shame in trying to get a few bucks to see Easy Rider, a worthy endeavor. “Got any change? Got a quarter? A dime? Anything? Anything at all? We want to see Easy Rider.” And they gave. They gave because they were people just like us. We had enough money in no time. We got in my car and went to see the movie. I think we even had enough left over for popcorn. And we sat and watched that movie about people just like us, me leaning against you, and you leaning against me. I think about how beautiful you were. A perfect 60’s girl. Long brown hair running absolutely straight down your back, past your waist. Your brown eyes were big as headlights. I swear you had the biggest eyes in the world. You had perfect lips, perfectly high cheekbones, and a perfect nose. Waves were nothing more than the ocean coming inland, trying to get a better look at you. We were so happy. I was so happy.
A number of years later, in Santa Barbara, I remember Dana, during the first six months of his life, oftentimes being mistaken for a girl. He was that beautiful. I want him to know it was because his mother was that beautiful.
What I want to happen after I die –
- I want my mother’s tears to turn into memories of past laughter.
- I want my wife’s past beauty to light her future.
- I want my son and his mother to always be as polite to each other as perfect strangers meeting for the first time.
- I want my son to have at least 100 years of health and happiness with his beautiful wife plus the 20 years of additional heartbeats that I didn’t have.
- I want my brother to have love and comfort and company every day of his long, long life.
- I want my son and my brother and my mother and my wife to talk to each other at least once a month and never forget one another’s birthdays.
- Mildred – March 1, 1919
- Dana – June 6, 1974
- Arthur – July 26, 1950
- Jan – November 5, 1949
- Ack, I would like you to say Kaddish for me eighteen times, and eighteen times only. You don’t have to say it on consecutive days. Just eighteen times. I mean it. If you want to say Kaddish for me when its Yizkor and at the anniversary of my death, that would be okay. But only if you can.
- D-, I would like you to say Kaddish with my brother just once, one time only.
- I would like all of you to give me one thought, only 10 seconds long, on my birthday, February, 28, 1958.
- If all of these things happen, I will be so happy. I will be so happy.
“I thought it would be an eloquent mad dash from life to death. The gun would go off – boom! I would leave the finish point of life and head to the starting point of death. What happened to me was a false start! I am in a transition now stumbling towards death.”
Jon spoke these words to this effect to his hospice nurse, SN, who wrote them down for us.