Simon, a Holocaust survivor, read the Jerusalem Post religiously and ran the New York Marathon every year. The beautiful etching tinted blue is of Mount Sinai, and the little girl cradled in his arms is his great-granddaughter – a beautiful impossibility – because Sydney was born after he passed away. But this was Michael’s idea from the very conception of Toby’s Dreamscape. It would be a legacy portrait that modulated the wistful sadness Michael’s mother felt whenever she laid eyes on her granddaughter – sadness caused by the fact that she could not share her joy of grandmotherhood with her father.
“The picture is now so dreamlike and ethereal,” writes Simon’s grandson and Sydney’s father, “that the idea of [Sydney and Simon] having been together in the physical world and that they remain together in a spiritual context (with him watching over her) is mind-blowing. [My mother] just got it and damn near lost her mind … she cannot stop talking about it. Before she got off the phone, she got sort of quiet and said, I just want to get into bed and curl up with my picture.”
Here Toby M, Michael’s mother, describes her own reaction to her Dreamscape:
“He was always in the picture; always a part of what’s happening. My father was the most amazing man I ever knew – one of the last survivors of the ninth fort at Yad Vashem! He was dynamic. No bullshit. So black and white. With amazing insight. You couldn’t go to a better therapist.
We started talking about how much we missed him. It was very hard to look at my father’s face and his smile because I wanted to bring him back. I didn’t really want to catch his eyes, it hurt so much. It bothered me that my father never met Sydney. Now, to see my grandchild in my father’s arms like that, I can feel she is close to him. If God forbid my house caught on fire, I think that’s what I would grab. That’s how powerful it is to me. There’s so much to look at, it’s a story about him and no one else. Simon, a great grandfather, died too young. If anybody could outsmart God, it would be him.”
Further reading: “Pictures that Heal: Dreamscapes Can Help Turn Pain into Joy” (Chicago Jewish News)