Who knew? In fact I barely knew him at all. So who knew you could get inspired while attending a funeral? It's really because of who the funeral was for -- which is why I am forever grateful to Jeffrey Zaslow.
It's estimated that 1500 people attended Monday's services at the Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield Michigan. Author Jeffery Zaslow died Friday in an automobile accident. Throughout his life, he touched thousands of people's lives, too many to fit into any synagogue or church.
The Wall Street Journal columnist and the author or coauthor of bestselling books including The Last Lecture , The Girls From Ames , Gabby (Rep. Gabrielle Giffords) and Highest Duty (the memoir of Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger), reached out to a worldwide audience.
The measure of the man, it seems to me, is not the volume of his impact, rather, it's how he went about making his impact that impresses me. He did it because he cared deeply about others.
I learned this about him today, in an hour and 15 minute service. His three daughters talked about how they know their father as a hero, not because he was famous, but because he made them laugh, sing, dance, listened, advised and made himself completely available to them no matter what obstacles stood in the way.
His most recent book, The Magic Room: A Story About the Love We Wish for our Daughters , chronicles eight stories of brides who all used an iconic wedding shop in Lansing, Michigan to buy their wedding dresses. The shop had a "magic room" where the brides would try on their dresses. Zaslow told Fox 2's Lee Thomas that "if he were in the room with his daughters it wasn't his job to tell them how to dress. It was his job to love them and his wife Sherry Margolis."
Play the video above to see the interview>>
This is the kind of love Zaslow had to give. His daughters promised today not only to remember him but to live on because of him.
Zaslow's mother, herself a professional writer, spoke about her son's amazing ability to write, but stressed the fact that it was his ability to care that made him so special. She referred to all of her children as being brilliant, but Jeffrey was part of her soul.
His siblings echoed their mother's sentiments. His sister, another writer, spoke about how Jeff would take her hand and help her to cross wide boulevards when they were little. How , as early as kindergarten, he always shared the details of his day with her, so she could experience the good things he was experiencing.
His brother laid out some beautiful philosophy explaining how we must all go on, in spite of the death that took Jeff far too soon. He reminded us that we all have experienced times when it seems like we cannot go on. He said he and Jeff's mother probably felt that way when her brother was killed in World War II, but she lived on to get married, have children and grandchildren. If she didn't go on, Jeff would not have been born. Now that Jeff has died, we go on.
Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger said “Many of you may think you know who I am. Let me tell you who I am and why I’m here. I’m a friend of Jeff.” Sullenberger said "he was changed by a single moment in time, where Zaslow was a hero everyday, because he was there for his family."
One of Jeff's colleagues from the Wall Street Journal talked about Jeff's amazing humor and how it helped to humanize the process of being a journalist. He also spoke about the many times Jeff served as a mentor to new writers.
In the end Rabbi Joseph Krakoff summed it up beautifully when he added notion of Shubert's Unfinished Symphony. Shubert died before he could finish it. "Zaslow," he said "is like a masterpiece."
Yes Jeff's life ended way too soon. But if you got nothing else from the speakers at the funeral service, it's obvious that Jeff lived life to it's fullest. All who really knew him loved him. All who really knew him, knew they were loved by him. To quote his daughter, "saying I love you at the end of every call was the norm."
I didn't know Jeff personally. I work with his wife Sherry, who is a wonderful person. Today I feel like I know the man because the people who knew him all said the same thing. He cared nothing about material things, just people.
That's how I want to live. That's how I want to be remembered. The Fox 2 family has been through a lot over the past 10-days. The death of General Manager Jeff Murri and the death of Sherry's husband Jeffrey Zaslow. What we've been through here is nothing compared to the grief the Murri and Zaslow family are feeling, but the message we take away can be very powerful.
Live life to it's fullest. Treat people well. Put people first. Let them know you love them. A second funeral in a week taught me these lessons.
Zaslow said Sherry and their daughters inspired him to write his last book "because you never know." I think Zaslow's idol Bruce Springsteen felt the same way when he wrote this:
Sandy the aurora's rising behind us.
The pier lights our carnival life forever.
Oh love me tonight and I promise I'll love you forever.
"4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)"