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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.He had hands of gold – whatever you put into his hands. He ran the NY marathon. Yes, he never walked; he always ran. Out of the house, to his car, to the theatre, to the opera, this lecture, that lecture. He rode dirt bikes. He taught cowboys how to shoe the horses better and faster. He’d do anything you could possibly imagine. He had this skill to observe. Simon thought all crises were bearable. He said it a million times: I stole 50 years from Hitler. He meant because he survived the Holocaust, those years weren’t supposed to be his He’d say to Michael when he was in his early 20s, It takes a lot to get that mensch sweatshirt.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)