by Zalman Velvel
I called him Buddy Freddy, which was also the name of the restaurant down the street from where he lived. He was my friend, and he was also like a brother to me and I loved him like family. When he came to shul, he hugged me when he greeted me, and said, "How’re doin’, Broth."
I helped him whenever I could. There were many times I complained, but still, I helped him. When I complained too much, Freddy assured me he was doing me a favor. It was his job to provide mitzvahs, and my job to do them. He was helping me pile up points with God.
Freddy had a hard life. During the nine years I knew him, he must have had twenty five jobs. People were cruel to him at work. But Freddy was tough. After each setback, Freddy picked himself up, dusted himself off, complained, felt sorry for himself, and then got back into life.
And when it came to luck, well, let me share with you a short story about Freddy’s luck.
A few months ago, before Shabbos, Freddy complained about how broke he was. He said he didn’t have enough money to take a lady friend out on a date.
I handed him my wallet and said, "Fred, take whatever you want." Fred looked at me with his crooked smile, then asked, "Are you serious?" I said, "Yes, I’m serious. Take whatever you want." He opened my wallet, then closed it. "Go ahead," I said. "It’s okay."
Finally, Fred reached into my wallet and pulled out some twenties, tens, and fives from the back. About $75. He looked at me for reassurance. I told him, "Go ahead. Keep it. Enjoy yourself."
You should have seen his smile. He radiated a million watts of joy.
Then I reached in to the next to the last compartment of my wallet and showed him the hundred dollar bills he missed. That was Freddy’ luck. In the wallet of life, he took from the wrong compartment.
But no matter how short he was on luck, and no matter how much Freddy had to struggle against his own limitations, there was one place Freddy was perfect – in his heart. Everyone that knew him, knew that in spite of what he said or did, Freddy’s heart was pure, and good, and kind. That is the part of him I will miss the most. Buddy Freddy’s heart.
I left instructions for my family, that if anything should ever happen to me, they should look after my Buddy Freddy. I requested they always provide him a place to stay, and help when he needed it.
Now, Freddy, you always have a place to stay, here, alongside my family. My father is nearby, if you want to play bridge, or need help with a crossword puzzle.
Freddy, rest assured you are going to a better place. And when I join you, you’ll read your poems, and I’ll read my stories, and we’ll play chess together …
Good bye for now, Buddy Freddy. See ya later.
**** Read at the graveside of Buddy Freddy Leitzis / Fraylich Yenkel, on Sunday, February 16, 2003
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Copyright 2003 by SSS Publishing. All Rights Reserved.
Zalman Velvel is a funny Jewish short story, comedy, writer working with Stand Up Comedy Performer David Sayh, great for Jewish Culture and Gifts