July 4, 2010 – In Memoriam: Gerald P. Sigal, Esquire

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This is not the post I had planned for today but life never seems to turn out the way we planned. My paternal Uncle, Gerald P. Sigal, passed away today, approximately one year after he was diagnosed with cancer. Jerry is survived by his lovely and dedicated wife, Norma; their two sons, Peter and Ivan; and Jerry’s lone-surviving brother, Dr. Roland Sigal (my father.) Jerry had been the youngest (by 14 years) of the 3 sons of Philip and Nancy Sigal of Bethlehem, Pa.: Roland (my Dad) was the eldest, Michael (who passed away at Thanksgiving 2002) and Jerry. I did not know either of my Uncles very well, having met Michael only once and Jerry only 3 times in my life. That is a tragedy in itself that plays out in many families where members are estranged for one reason or another, but one which I tried to remedy.

Ivan, Norma, Jerry & Peter Sigal

(l-r) Ivan, Norma, Jerry & Peter Sigal. (May 2010). Photo Credits to Joi, Oso and Clempage,. Composite by Leslie Sigal Javorek.

The last time I saw my Uncle Jerry was almost exactly 7 years ago (July 2003), just a month before I began my first round of chemo. Very conscious of the rather dim odds for survival and having lost the opportunity to get to know my Uncle Mike due to his very early death due to a rare form of Leukemia in 2002, I felt driven to go and meet with members of my family whom I hadn’t seen in years, hardly knew or in many cases, had never met. So I packed up my car and drove myself the 350 miles to Reading, Pa. It’s a small town high up in the Pocono Mountains and while suffering from a distressed economy, it is a showplace for what money can’t buy: incredibly beautiful views of the mountains and valleys, forests and streams that surround the town. While there, I stayed with one of Uncle Mike’s 4 children, Andy Sigal and his enthusiastic, pretty wife, Sandy. This was my first time meeting ANY of my first-cousins and was a real treat. Andy and Sandy not only opened their home to me, but showed me around the town and took me to meet his step-mother (Barbara Sigal), his youngest sister (Flora Spector), and our mutual aunt and uncle (Norma and Jerry Sigal). I was invited to dinner at Jerry’s home (a really fantastic century (actually, I believe it was close to 200 years old) home on the crest of one of the mountains with a flowing stream at the bottom of a ravine on one side and a delightful flower garden in back. We had dinner under a trellis covered patio in the back and afterward, I first got a tour of the house where they had done a considerable amount of work restoring it, making it inhabitable for 21st century living, and making it truly their own, and then had the opportunity to just sit and talk in their cozy little den.

I don’t know if you’ve ever sat down with someone whom you are closely related to but had lived 40+ years essentially being complete strangers. It is both exciting and scary and awkward at first. I knew relatively little about my uncle beforehand, other than that he was an attorney who enjoyed sailing and flying small planes for a hobby (just like my grandfather and father), that he was 6 ft. -4 in. tall with the classic good looks of all the Sigal men, and that his wife was a Hebrew School Teacher and Administrator. Oh yeah, I also knew that when he was a teenager, he had once stolen a sign for a cave that was a big, local tourist draw. (I knew this last fact only because when I was 10 yrs. old, I slept up in a loft bedroom at my grandmother’s farm where that sign was hung on the wall.) My visit with Jerry and Norma was for only a few hours but I found them both very open and easy to talk to and that we had a number of mutual interests. I learned a lot about their sons, whom I had never met, and we even visited their websites so I could see some of their blogs, published articles, news releases, bios, photography, and videos. Jerry and Norma were beaming with obvious (and well-deserved pride. I learned my uncle’s “side of the story” about the family in general and his relationship with my father at various times in his life, and I was surprised by the vehemence (fiercely proud) with which he spoke about my father’s military service and business acumen. There was a 14 year difference between Roland and Jerry and it was clear that my Dad had been his hero while growing up, but unrealistic expectations grew into resentment and clashes with my Dad’s 2nd wife created an excuse to grow distant. I also learned their plans to move to Ocracoke, North Carolina the following year after Jerry retired. I left there that night with a warm and positive feeling and felt that the door now opened would lead to a continuing new relationship.

Unfortunately, my life took a detour I had never expected, and while by the grace of G-d I managed to survive not only that round of chemo but 2 more subsequent rounds and have thus far managed to outlive the original prognosis I was given, the years between 2003 and March of 2010 were devastating to my body and mind and for most of that time, I could not even sit up, feed, or bath myself. What little energy I had been zapped by this lawsuit I’ve been trapped in and so I had nothing left in me to follow-up with my Uncle, Aunts, and cousins, and now I’ve yet again lost my Uncle Jerry and my opportunity to have been a “real family” with him. I’ve no idea whether he felt a loss in those regards but I’d like to believe that he would’ve really liked my husband and son and that we could have helped bring him and my Dad closer together. I guess that will have to wait for our next lifetimes, if such miracles occur. In the meantime, “Fly High, Uncle Jerry! I’ll be looking towards the sky hoping to see you there.”

Free Clip-Art / Icons of the Day

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DNA Wheelchair-Accessible

We Speak ASL (American Sign Language)

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Mrs. Hudson & Sherlockian Icons

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My cousin, Flo, is one of the most brilliant and talented women I know. Intensely passionate about her work as the head of a successful I.T. consulting group, Excalibur I.T., when she doffs that cap it is most often for the other major passion in her life as a member of an elite international community of “Sherlockians“. Flo’s alter-ego, Mrs. Flora Hudson not only hosts her own website but also has designed and maintained a number of other sites for members of the Sherlockian Web-Ring and is a sought-after lecturer on, amongst other topics, “The Art of Poisons”. Yet in the midst of all her own commitments and interests, she took the time to drive 500 miles from her home to mine in the middle of a storm one night to care for me, my family and our home at a time when I was undergoing a third round of chemo and was completely dependent on the assistance of others for the most basic of human needs.

There is no adequate way really to thank someone for their spontaneous love and well-intentioned efforts that went beyond the call. I admit to being entirely inept when it comes to the formal manners of “good breeding” and society and am well-known amongst friends and family as one who never (or at least very rarely) initiates a phone call, while at the same time, will drop everything and listen for hours on end and do whatever else that I can to assist those who reach out to me and don’t take my quirks as a personal affront.

And so, the real point of this post is to publicly acknowledge my appreciation and love for my cousin, Flora Spector, and to share with the rest of you, some of the artwork I created inspired by Flo’s passion for Mr. Sherlock Holmes (and all things Victorian).

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The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered in the “Free Clip-Art / Icons of the Day” section are free for your personal use, subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Attribution – No Derivatives – Share Alike- 3.0 license. (See sidebar for Terms of Use) For commercial or any other use, please contact me for directly.

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Doc Watson's Bag

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Pathologist Rudolf Virchow-2

Fox Spokane Art Deco Icons Pt. 2

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apropos of absolutely nothing to do with this morning’s helping of icons from my “Fox Spokane” icon series… a bit of melancholy pseudo-haiku fit for 4:00 am on this Friday morning.

Dreams of a simple life slip through my fingers and

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to the floor

If you must know, this tinge of wistfulness has been well-earned over the last 36 hours. A simple oil change on my car today ended up costing me over $1000 dollars; my hubby’s back in the hospital (again!) for the 6th time in the last 18 months; our son took a turn too fast on his father’s pristine-condition Triumph (now no longer pristine), scraped the heck out of his leg and then had to return to his apartment (250 miles away) for a job interview last night; my live-in 91-year-old mother-in-law (whom I’m here alone with tonight) forgot today what to do if she’s thirsty and has a glass of water in her hand; and I just learned that my third round of chemo failed to do its’ job. In other words, it’s just another day here in Cleveland, Ohio and life continues to fly by. …Lovely.

Well, enough of that crap and onto something far more interesting and fun! Intermission is over and it’s time to return to “Fox Spokane”!

Free Clip-Art / Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered in the “Free Clip-Art / Icons of the Day” section are free for your personal use, subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Attribution – No Derivatives – Share Alike- 3.0 license. (See sidebar for Terms of Use) For commercial or any other use, please contact me for directly.

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The ART of Survival

Posted by: Leslie Sigal Javorek – – – STICKY POST – – – Those suffering from chronic, debilitating illness and/or terminal conditions understand how isolating that can be, even when they are lucky enough to have (healthy) friends or family around them. Ironically, many who are blessed with not looking as sick as we really […]

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