She had visited libraries and museums in every town or city she had stayed at, and had found a lot of books that would liven up her courses for the next year. Many she had ordered sent on, some she had bought and carried with her, to read as she travelled. She would soon be leaving the train again, to stay at Bain City for a week or so. August was ending, and after Bain City, she would be travelling north, heading back and into fall.
Her stay in Bain City had been interesting. Even there, she saw the first hints of fall; Goldenrod and cornflowers along the country roads when she escaped the city on a rented a bicycle, and apples trees laden with almost ripe fruit. Now she was on a train again, headed northeast. Next stop Port Weller, where she hoped to see the Rabbi again.
Port Weller was a small city with two libraries, one belonging to the Synagogue, the other the city library. Once she had settled into her hotel, she set out to explore. Here there were more signs of fall; trees with leaves of red or gold, marigolds and chrysanthemums in gardens, and in planters along the streets of the business district. She spent two days exploring the city library and found two books on the history of Jewish settlement in the area, by Rabbi Goldberg. She asked if they could tell her where she could buy them, and she was directed to a book store two blocks away. She was delighted at her acquisition, and decided to go to the park to rest and start reading.
She was deeply engrossed in the first book when a voice said “why, my dear friend, how delightful to see you again!” Looking up in surprise, she smiled and stood.
“Rabbi Goldberg, how wonderful! I was hoping to see you again. Look!” She held up the book for him to read the cover. I saw your books in the library and was directed to the store; I bought both, and am fascinated!”
Rabbi Goldberg laughed, “I am honoured! Would you like to visit our library while you are here?”
“Oh, yes, I would! When would you have time to give me a tour?”
“Now, if you are free. I have nothing to do until I have to go home for dinner. In fact, if you will, I would be happy if you would join us. Sarah always cooks enough for six, and there is only the two of us. And she would be pleased to have company. I can guarantee the best dinner in the city!”
Oh, Rabbi, I would love to join you, as long as your wife doesn’t mind.” Laura was thrilled at the invitation. He had mentioned his wife several times when they were travelling together and wished she could meet her.
The tour of the synagogue library took several hours, and Laura was tired when they left. She noticed that the Rabbi looked pale, with a slight bluish tinge to his lips and earlobes. “Rabbi, are you all right? You look pale.”
He glanced at his watch, and smiled. “I’m ok,” he said. “I just got so engrossed in our tour that I forgot to take my medication. If you will wait a moment while I get some water, I will take it now, and we can sit for a little while on the bench outside.” She agreed, and he went off, and led her outside to a little park beside the synagogue. They sat resting there for half an hour, watching the birds and squirrels and enjoying the vivid colours on the gardens. She watched Isaac’s face, and saw the colour slowly return.
At last, he turned to her and suggested they go on to his home. “I called Sarah when I took my medication,” he told her, “and she is delighted. I had told her about you, and she said how much she would like to meet you.”
“I feel the same; I almost feel I know her from what you told me then.”
They walked slowly to the big old Victorian house half a block away. Sarah was waiting for them at the door, and greeted Laura like a long lost daughter. The meal was all he had said it would be, and Laura was sated with good food, good company and great conversation. Sarah was as well educated as Isaac, and the topics ranged over a wide variety of subjects.
She saw Sarah and Isaac once again, and was not happy with his appearance. He seemed to have aged rapidly, and the blueness showed in his lips and earlobes, and in his fingertips. It was very faint, but it worried her. So it was not really a surprise when Sarah called to tell her Isaac had died in his sleep the night before. Laura asked about the funeral, and attended, saddened at the loss of such a great man. She told Sarah how much she valued the short time she had known him. Sarah told her Isaac had felt the same. They hugged and Laura left.
She was feeling too sad to hurry and opted to walk back to the hotel. She would be heading home again in the morning, and she wanted to savour the memory of Isaac and Sarah, and bask in the peace and beauty of the autumn colours. They eased the ache in her heart, the warm sun, the cool breeze, the sound of the birds, all helped her accept his passing, and cherish his memory. As she passed the park where he had found her that first day, she glanced over at the bench she had been sitting on. She stopped and took in the beauty, and the loneliness of that empty bench backed by the colourful trees.
She reached into her purse and taking out her camera, took a picture. This would be the perfect remembrance, of Isaac, and all that he had taught her. She sighed, and walked on, thinking of the rest of the journey.