|Leon and Michael Wildes flank Yoko Ono at the opening in 2009 of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Annex in New York. Courtesy Michael Wildes|
Incredibly, and tragically, Dec. 8 marked the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s death. My family was truly privileged to have known him, and we have been forever changed by the experience.
Throughout the trials and tribulations he faced with my father by his side, John became a treasured member of our family, and I will always cherish the fact that he was invited to my bar mitzvah. My mother grew closer to Yoko Ono, who respected and admired her and our family’s closeness. Around this time of year, at Chanukah, Yoko would send us beautiful gifts, including exquisitely presented fish in special wicker baskets. We were deeply touched that she took care to ensure that each fish was kosher. In turn, we would send gifts to them for the couple’s son Sean. My father recently met Yoko for a cup of tea; we continue to exchange personal handwritten holiday cards and still perform immigration work for people in her circle.
John and Yoko were both very respectful of our family’s Shabbos and holiday observances. I answered the telephone many a time after Shabbos to hear his famous voice ask, “Is it over yet?” The restraint that he demonstrated, even in the face of an emergency, is just one small example of his generosity of spirit.
I smile when I think that my father had no idea who John was when he met him – and who could have imagined where that introduction would eventually bring them? Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him and of the wonderful times we shared with John and his family. To this day, I shudder when I think of Yoko’s terrible loss. He touched so many lives, and we all share in that loss.