My Zadie – Morris Konar – died Sunday, three weeks after my Bubbie passed away. It was the longest they’d been apart in 61 years.
Even as Bubbie was slipping away in the hospital, Zadie would collect what little strength he had to visit her twice a day.
Her death left him heartbroken and confused.
His mind was torn asunder and it appears his body couldn’t withstand the rift.
His passing is a sad, poignant end to a remarkable and beautiful relationship.
Like Bubbie, Zadie survived the Holocaust. And like Bubbie, he lost family to the concentration camp.
After the war, a mutual friend introduced the two in Germany, but this was not love at first sight.
They needed a second.
That came at a bus stop in Rochester, N.Y.
Zadie had come over with his older brother Harry to join the youngest, Bill.
Bubbie had traveled here with her mother.
They both wanted to start a new life and, together, they did.
Zadie believed wholeheartedly in the American Dream.
He’d work long hours and was a shrewd businessman.
I’d always think, “God help the poor soul who’s charged with selling him something.”
He’d win through sheer exhaustion.
And whatever he bought or earned, he funneled into his home.
He wanted little for himself and the world for his children, Liz and Arty.
In particular, he was adamant they receive a top-notch education – something he would ensure for his grandchildren as well.
His children would repay him with unconditional love and a wicked impersonation, which plays heavily off his Polish accent.
In the Konar household, Zadie was the straight man, providing endless material for Liz, Arty and even Bubbie.
He relished the role.
He was grandfather, father and husband above all else – a patriarch.
Through six decades, he maintained an unflinching devotion to Bubbie.
He recently told my brother she was the only girl he ever dated; the only woman he ever loved.
Only death could break that embrace.
Today, there’s no way to untangle the emotions: love, frustration, grief and relief.
Zadie would often say, “Que sera, sera.” What will be, will be.
That’s hard to accept in times like these, but it helps to know that all the good that is and all the good that will be in my life I owe in large part to him.
Adam Chodak, Anchor/Reporter