A few years back I started writing a biography, which I am yet to complete: my father's life. The starting point was this moment, when the old man, who was an author, poet and artist in the prime of his life, nods to sleep, propped by pillows on his armchair:
Here is the place – he can bring it back – his first home.
Straight ahead is the door with a big handle high above. He can easily reach it, standing on the tips of his toes and pushing, pushing forward. It opens! Here is the room, which he shares with his sister, Batia. He is three yours old; she is five. And somehow he knows: she will come in later, much later. He can climb into bed now. Sleep is coming; he can feel it. Sleep is almost here.
It weighs heavily on his lids, but – for just a second – he can lift his dreamy gaze and look up at the painted ceiling. Half of it is night, with a large crescent moon surrounded by a swirl of stars, the other half – day, with a bright, yellow sun. He rubs his eyes, astonished. Nothing like this has ever happened before: They stir! The sun, the moon and the glowing stars – they all seem to move, seem to turn overhead...
Then, all of the sudden, amidst the glow, he finds himself standing at the banks of a lake with his daddy. He lets go of his daddy’s hand, flings a stone and at once he can spot – right there, in the middle of the lake – a ripple taking shape. One circle rises magically inside another, widening away, riding out farther and farther until at long last it fades out. White lilies can be seen floating all around. One of them is right here, at arms reach. Only a thin line, the line of illusion, separates the petal from its white reflection. And underneath it, schools of golden fish scurry in one direction, then take a sharp turn and flow elsewhere.
And from somewhere in the distance he can hear a shrill sound: the whistle of a train. Soon, Zeev knows, it will go out of earshot again, as the train travels past the hills, going away on its mysterious journey, calling him to come, calling him to follow.
And here is a watercolor portrait I made, after his passing, to remember him by: