October 09, 2009


FROM SIMONE FEDERMAN (October 6, 2009)

October 6, 2009

My father died this morning. Last night I read all of "The Voice in The Closet" to him in one breath, 75 pages: one sentence. I stopped on page 61 to cry, and then we both cried at the end.

He had not been responsive for more than 24 hours, so this was especially magical. I thanked him for all the books, all the beautiful sentences, this being the most beautiful I had ever read. I thanked him for being the best father I could ever imagine. I told him he would always be my best friend. His eyebrows told me to stop crying. So I did. I told him I understood because he had taught me about laughter.

I went to bed on the pull-out couch next to his bed. I half heard his loud heavy breathing stop and roused to call my mom, who had already had a beautiful tearful last goodbye, and the nurse. He had died. We said kaddish for him at the mortuary, and he was cremated, as he wished, like his mother, father and sisters, at about noon.

We are planning to spread some of the ashes, maybe some noodles too, at his golf course, maybe even make a drop at the casino, and then bring some to France to spread at his former apartment and Le Cimetière Marin (the one in the Valéry poem he wanted me to read to him last week).

My mother and I, my sister Robin and brothers, James and Steve are planning a memorial celebration of his life in San Diego in the coming weeks, details to come.

We are okay, feeling strong. We had a really special last few weeks with him, not to mention a really special 47 to 49 years. I apologize for the group e-mail. I just wanted you to know.

Much love,

Le 6 octobre 2009

Mon père est mort ce matin. La veille je lui ai lu tout "La Voix dans le débarras" d’un seul trait, 75 pages : une phrase. Je me suis arrêtée à la page 61 pour pleurer, et ensuite on a pleuré ensemble à la fin.

Cela faisait plus de 24 heures qu'il n'avait plus réagi, c'était donc particulièrement magique.

Je l'ai remercié pour tous les livres, toutes les belles phrases, celle-ci étant la plus belle que j’ai jamais lue. Je l'ai remercié d'être le meilleur père que je puisse imaginer. Je lui ai dit qu'il serait toujours mon meilleur ami. Ses sourcils m'ont dit d'arrêter de pleurer. Donc je l'ai fait. Je lui ai dit que je comprenais parce qu'il m'avait tout appris sur le rire.

Je me suis couchée sur le clic clac à côté de son lit. J'ai entendu à demi sa respiration lourde et bruyante s’arrêter. Je me suis levée pour appeler ma mère, qui lui avait déjà dit un bel et tendre dernier adieu, ainsi que l'infirmière. Il était mort. On a dit le kaddish pour lui à la morgue et il a été incinéré, comme il l'avait souhaité, et comme sa mère, son père et ses sœurs l’avaient été, aux alentours de midi.

Nous avons pour projet de disperser quelques unes des cendres, et peut-être aussi quelques nouilles, sur son parcours de golf, de peut être même passer en laisser quelques unes au casino, et d'en apporter ensuite certaines en France pour les étendre dans son ancien appartement et au Cimetière marin (celui dans le poème de Valéry qu'il a voulu que je lui lise la semaine dernière).

Ma mere et moi, ma soeur Robin and frères James and Steve allons organiser une célébration commémorative de sa vie à San Diego dans les semaines prochaines, les détails suivront.

Nous allons bien. Nous venons de passer quelques semaines vraiment magnifiques avec lui, sans compter 47 à 49 années non moins magnifiques. Veuillez m'excuser pour cet e-mail de groupe. J'ai juste voulu vous mettre au courant.

Je vous embrasse,

Simone, your father was a special human being. Always a very kind and happy person, despite reaching the rank of the greatest writers in the world. I’m sure his voice now is beyond the closet and embraces the whole universe.
I'm really sorry. Just yesterday I spoke at a conference about your father's work here in Argentina.
I wrote him an e-mail once, a few months ago, to tell him that I was translating his work into Spanish and he answered almost instantly, very kindly. I will always have a great affection for him.
May he rest in peace.
Merci mille fois de ces quelques lignes si émouvantes.
Que Dieu vous console...
Mr. Federman was such a lovely, kind teacher back when I was in his class at SUNY Buffalo 35 years ago - and wow, did we have fun in his class! Making up a literary 'movement', going on the campus radio station reading our work. What joy! - I always kept him in my mind, and when I wrote to him not too long ago, received such a sweet reply. RIP, dear Mr. Federman, your students loved you.
Simone, I want to offer condolences to you for your loss. Reading these posts, I am touched by what an amazing man your father must have been, and I am sorry that I only learned of him and his work this morning in the NYT obituary...which caught my sister's eye because our family name is Federman - our father is a survivor from Wolbrom, Poland. Do you know if your family was from that area originally?
Again, I wish you comfort and all the best to you and your family.
Just now, I was reading the opening line of "Double or Nothing" which made it to the famous list of "100 Best First Lines of Novels" as chosen by the editors of American Book Review. It impressed me so much that I wanted to know more about the author. As I googled Mr. Raymond Federman - for I had never heard about him before, I was deeply saddened to know that he had actually passed away a few days before I 1st heard about him. I am really sorry for your loss, Madame/Mademoiselle Simone. For a moment, I felt exactly what it is, for the world, for a son and for a reader, to lose such an amazing man, father and writer.

Please be aware, my friend, that you are not the only one who will miss Mr. Raymond Federman. Here, in the other corner of the world, in the land of the Pharaons, I shall miss him, too.

I believe such great people simply never die, and to me, your father was born today. He will keep coming back to life every day a new person finds out about his work. Your strength is admirable and it clearly proves that Mr. Federman did succeed to teach you, and all of us, something meaningful.

Your father tried to make a better place out of the world, and now, that he IS in a better place, I am sure, your strength is something he is and should be proud of.

May Allah surround him with mercy, peace and blessings.

Keep your head high up.

Love and respect,

Noblez Chavazelle

Alexandria, Egypt
I just learned of Ray's death. I am so sad. He was on my Ph.D committee and was such a joyful man of letters and class. I am near tears.
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