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Goodbye, Farewell – Smile for Me …

12 Dec

With breaking, aching hearts we have to inform you of the death of our most beloved Martin today at 1.30 – he passed away peacefully at home, embraced by his family whom he adored, and who adore him entirely.  The funeral will take place tomorrow, Thursday 13th December, at 12.30 in the Pardess Haim Cemetery in Kfar Saba.

 In true and typical Martin fashion, some weeks before he died, he wrote what he called “The Last Blog.”  Here it is – below:


Goodbye, Farewell – Smile for Me …

I won’t know when this blog will be posted.

Pam will have taken that decision for me.

We lost our fight with pancreatic cancer.

We had some successes for which I’d like to thank each and every one of you.

It never broke my spirit.

Smile for me.

Shalom, shalom. 

Happy Hanukka

8 Dec

At this time of year so special for miracles, let’s hope that we can again transform darkness to light … in good health, peace, and more than anything – tolerance.

Hag Hanukka sameach – happy Hanukka to all!

Has Keith Helped Me to Turn the Corner?

23 Nov

Keith is leaving early tomorrow morning.  What brilliant timing for a visit.  Although any visit at any time from Keith would be amazing.  He’s just that sort of guy.  And I have the luck to be his brother-in-law … and he’s left me in better shape than when he arrived.

With regard to “turning the corner” – that’s a complicated matter.  Geometrically it might be a great analogy.  My clinical condition continues to deteriorate in a downward straight line.  My movement is miniscule and I spend most of my day (and night) in my reclining couch.  So we’d have to turn a corner for any dramatic change.  But you know my philosophy: life is a continuous cycle, going round and round.  We just don’t know whether we’re at the bottom, ready to swing back up, or vice versa.

The signs are pretty ominous, although each sign may well be one more crutch.  “Wheelchair” sounded bad, but it serves me well in getting to the beach and enjoying nature.  “Oxygen” sounds even worse, but having the admin behind us and a cannister on call (for the odd puff now and again) certainly makes for common sense.  “Morphine” sounds as low as one can go.  But using the right-sized patch has proven a blessing.

So, who knows?  At least I’ve still got the patience to wait and see – and to wait for Keith’s next visit.

Keith’s come over from Canada

18 Nov

Keith arrived last night from Vancouver.

I might just use the blog as an ‘updater’ while he’s here rather than posting my normal blog.

I might also be a little indulgent and ask that you channel your interest by email rather than calling, even though I myself am getting to the keyboard less at the moment.  So email Pam; she passes on all the messages to me.

Hello Again

1 Nov

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been on the PARPS for three weeks. It would be even harder to describe what’s being going on during that time. Most of it has been pretty negative and I’ve been too exhausted to tell you.

But I’ve been so touched and encouraged by your support – those that have wanted to visit, keep phoning or those whose emails I’ve failed to answer – that I have to get back to the keyboard. Hopefully, there’ll be lots to share with you in the future.

I had thought of using the blog merely as a means of updating you – but perhaps at another stage. For the moment I’d like to keep to my mandate of fighting this awful illness.

The euphoria of receiving the PARPS receded as pain seemed to take over almost immediately. But the following day, we’d been invited to a seventieth birthday party of one my golf partners – a retired surgeon. Against Pam’s better judgement, I prevailed upon her to go. It was a last minute decision.

As fate would have it, I sat next to one of my host’s long-time work colleagues. We start talking and, looking as I did, the conversation soon turned to my illness. He just “happened to be” co-ordinator of a massive EU funded project that is out to find early-detection for pancreatic cancer!

This most remarkable man, Prof Louis Shenkman, tells me about the project: four years to investigate pathways of cancer – and hence lead the team to a cure. The “team” is being led by the Nano-technology Department of Bar-Ilan University; 19 members, including three other Israeli universities, one from Russia and the rest from the European Union. What is fascinating to Prof Shenkman is the fact that most of the personnel involved are scientists who have little or no contact with patients. He himself, while still a practicing doctor, admitted that he hadn’t before had such a heart-to-heart discussion with a potential “end-user”. He persuaded me how our few words were added incentive to ensure that the team beat their “deadline”.

By co-incidence, he tells me, he was travelling the next day to Europe for a meeting with the team leaders. After eighteen months work, the SaveMe Project has reached a cross-road for decision making; finalising the short list of the paths they will follow. They know they’re on the right trail. He asks me whether he can quote part of our discussion in his opening address. I’m knocked out.

I tell him that I had to wait two years for the PARPS. If his team comes up with the solution in another two and half years – I’m prepared to wait around for it. In view of what’s been happening in the last three weeks that’s one hell of a challenge. Let’s all hope we’re up for it.

Check out the “SaveMe Project”. The link is


Pam’s Perspective: 4

21 Sep

As the holiest day of the Jewish year rolls around again, I find that I have a rocky relationship with God.  On Wednesday, Yom Kippur, we will sit in shul and say that today He decides who will live and who will die – but Penitence, Prayer and Charity avert the severe decree.  And I’ve got a problem with that.

The Jewish religion mandates praying 3 times a day; there is an opportunity each time to offer a prayer for someone’s health. So many people are praying for Martin – they ask for his Hebrew name, and the name of his mother, and they “add him to their list” (as some of them tell us) every day.  We are grateful for this; I think it is another facet of Judaism’s brilliance.  You pray for someone 3 times a day and so you think of him, you think of him so you call, or email, or visit.  Visiting the sick is one of the greatest mitzvot a Jew can perform – and it is tremendously supportive to the patient and his family.  So prayer is wonderful, and gives the supplicant a measure of (assumed) control.

But what of God, who receives the prayers?  Is He sitting there on high with a notebook, or an iPad, calculating whether the threshold of prayer has been passed or not, and He will show mercy?  Enough Shema Yisraels and He’ll add on another year?  People come up with strange and incredible manners in which we should appeal to God’s better nature: a friend’s son, studying in Yeshiva, told Martin to go into a small room and tell God, out loud, what he has done for God’s country.  Hmmm.  Does God not know? Has He forgotten?  Do I want to believe in a God like this?


Some of the more … ummm … ‘provocative’ Rabbis have their own take on tragedy.  When, many many years ago, a train ploughed into a bus full of schoolchildren on their way home from a class trip, killing over 20 kids, a Rabbi proclaimed it was because they didn’t keep Shabbat.  The same statement, from a different Rabbi, followed the disastrous crash of 2 air force helicopters, on their way to Lebanon.  When a bus load of Haredi children was blown up after that, resulting in the death of many innocent religious kids who did keep the Sabbath, the Rabbis said it was God’s will.

So it’s a win-win situation for God, I see: things go well, it’s because He’s answered your prayers, things go badly – well, it’s God’s will.  So many, many well-intentioned people are now telling me to trust in God – it’s all in His hands, it’s all from Above – I should be comforted in that.  Here’s the thing: it’s the opposite of comforting for me – I don’t want to believe that such a fickle God exists, and certainly not that I’m in His hands.  A line from King Lear leaps up each time I hear about praying to God: “As flies to wanton boys so are we to the Gods, / They kill us for their sport.” 

Oh dear.

But, you know what, I am desperate.  This year, as always, I’ll go to shul and beat my breast in penitence for the sins of eating and drinking (not waiting long enough for my Cadbury’s chocolate after my chicken), and for my foolish speech and wanton glance (though, for the life of me I can’t remember being wanton … but it’s best to be on the safe side); and we will give charity as we always do, and we will pray, oh how we will pray, for a better year for all.

And God, if you prove me wrong and show me that You are listening after all – well, I’ll even go into a small room and tell You, out loud, how much I love You.


Chatima tova[1] for to us all – to the House of Israel and all the other houses on God’s earth.



[1] May we be inscribed in the Book of Life

Happy Birthday Pam

2 Apr

Happy Birthday Pam!

Every day with you is a celebration. May we just continue together for many more years.