Today’s guest columnist is Richard Friedman.
Two weeks before he died, Myron Radwin was in his room at Grandview Hospital recovering from surgery when something unexpected happened.
Shortly thereafter, at home and in declining health, Myron and his daughter Holly Mazer, who was in his hospital room that day, recounted the story.
It goes like this.
A man came into Myron’s room wearing a clergy collar. He identified himself as a chaplain. He was familiar with Myron’s situation and knew that he was 100 years old.
“He asked how my dad was doing and said my father did not look 100,” said Holly.
To those who had visited Myron at that time, this visitor was right.
Myron did not look 100 and, more remarkably, he sounded like he did 40 years ago, speaking with a strong voice, rich with clarity and detail, and exuding an engaging warmth.
The chaplain asked Myron if he had served in World War II. Myron said yes, that he served in the Pacific front in the medical corps, like the famed MASH unit immortalized on TV.
The clergyman in turn told him that he, too, was in the medical corps while serving in the Air Force in Vietnam. Myron then told him that he also was in the Air Force.
They talked about some other things for a while.
He told Myron and Holly his name and, based on his last name, Myron asked him if he was Italian. He said that his name had Spanish origins.
“Before I go I want to read you a Psalm,” he said. Myron answered that was fine but added, “I just want you to know I am Jewish.”
Then without hesitation this Christian, in Hebrew, recited the Shema and then burst into song, chanting it beautifully, also in Hebrew.
The Shema is considered the most important prayer in Judaism: “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.”
“My dad and I looked at each other with amazement and disbelief. There was hair standing straight up on my arms. He sang the Shema in a beautiful voice,” said Holly.
“We told him how wonderful his voice was and to hear him sing the Shema with such gusto was a beautiful experience that we would treasure.”
With that they thanked him. He smiled with appreciation, said he had others to visit and was gone.
“When he left we couldn’t stop talking about him. We both forgot his name so I went out to the nurses station and asked them his name,” said Holly.
“There were a few nurses standing around and when I asked them about this chaplain, they said they didn’t see anyone or know of anyone who had been on the floor.”
With that Holly went back to her dad’s room where both of them agreed that their mysterious visitor was an angel that had been sent to him.
“This chaplain had such a calming voice and him singing the Shema just made our day. My dad was so happy, which made me so happy. We still talk about this wonderful experience. This moment in time will remain with us.”
Myron, who died two weeks later, was still talking about that memorable day as he rested at home in bed surrounded by Holly and his wife Marian: “I know that man was sent to me by God.”
David Sher is the founder and publisher of ComebackTown. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).
Invite David to speak to your group for free about a better Birmingham. email@example.com.