By Richard Friedman
Long-time well-known Birmingham Jewish community member Myron Radwin was in his room at Grandview Hospital recently recovering from surgery when something unexpected happened.
Now at home and in a declining health situation, Myron and his daughter Holly Mazer, who was in his hospital room at the time, recounted the story with smiles and emotion.
It goes like this.
A man came into Myron’s hospital room wearing a clergy collar. He identified himself as a chaplain. He was familiar with Myron’s situation and knew that he was 100 years old. Holly also was in the room.
“He asked how my dad was doing and said my father did not look 100,” said Holly.
To those who’ve seen Myron lately, this visitor was right. He does not look 100 and more remarkably, sounds like he did 40 years ago, speaking with a strong voice, rich with clarity and detail, and exuding an engaging warmth.
The chaplain asked Myron if he had served in World War II. Myron said yes, that he served in the Pacific front in the medical corps, like the famed MASH unit immortalized on TV.
The clergyman in turn told them that he, too, was in the medical corps, while serving in the Air Force in Vietnam. Myron then told him that he also was in the Air Force.
“Before I Go”
They talked about some other things for a while. He told Myron and Holly his name and, based on his last name, Myron asked him if he was Italian. He said that his name had Spanish origins. He also said he helps out at the downtown Greek Orthodox Church during their festivals.
“Before I go I want to read you a Psalm,” he said. Myron said that was fine but added, “I just want you to know I am Jewish.”
“My dad and I looked at each other with amazement and disbelief. There was hair standing straight up on my arms. He sang the Shema in a beautiful voice,” said Holly. “We told him how wonderful his voice was and to hear him sing the Shema with such gusto was a beautiful experience that we would treasure.”
With that they thanked him. He smiled with appreciation, said he had others to visit and then he was gone.
“When he left we couldn’t stop talking about him. We both forgot his name so I went out to the nurses station and asked them his name,” said Holly.
“There were a few nurses standing around and when I asked them about this chaplain, they said they didn’t see anyone or know of anyone who had been on the floor.”
With that Holly went back to her dad’s room where both of them agreed that their mysterious visitor was an angel that had been sent to them.
“This chaplain had such a calming voice and him singing the Shema just made our day. My dad was so happy, which made me so happy. We still talk about this wonderful experience. This moment in time will remain with us.”
Myron, now in hospice care, put it this way as his wife Marian and Holly stood nearby: “I know that man was sent to me by God.”